Dave Lewis, newly appointed ceo of the UK’s top supermarket, stressed that the move was not disciplinary in nature or an admission of guilt on the part of the people concerned.
In an interview for the BBC News website, Lewis said the discovery of the error last Friday (September 19) had led to a preliminary investigation over the past weekend. That, in turn, had led to the launch of a much wider enquiry.
A spokeswoman for the supermarket said it was not commenting on the identity of those suspended. However, The Telegraph has named the individuals as UK md Chris Bush, UK finance director Carl Rogberg, food commercial director John Scouler and head of food sourcing Matt Simister.
Lewis did confirm that multi-channel director Robin Terrell has stepped into the role of UK md, which had been held by Chris Bush, but has not confirmed whether or not Bush is among those suspended.
Analysts have said they are “flabbergasted” by the announcement that profits could have been misstated by such a high figure.
Commenting on the financial slip, Conlumino analyst Neil Saunders said: “Today’s announcement will further undermine market confidence in a company that has already lost a lot of investor goodwill.
“Mistakes do happen, but this gives the impression of a company that is not in full control of its internal procedures. It is just not what you expect from a company as large as Tesco.”