In a statement issued yesterday (October 14), a Tesco spokeswoman said: “We have asked three employees to step aside to facilitate the investigation into the potential overstatement of profits in UK food for the first half of the year.
“We will provide an update on the investigation with our interim results on 23 October.”
The identities of the three have not been officially divulged, although a Tesco spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk they were not non-executive directors, contrary to initial reports.
Sky News has identified them as Dan Jago, Tesco’s UK and group wine director, Sean McCurley, director of convenience foods, and William Linnane, director of impulse purchases.
The supermarket chain confirmed it had launched an enquiry into the accounting shock last month. It admitted it may have overstated its expected half-year profits by as much as £250M in an August interim statement.
It then suspended UK md Chris Bush, UK finance director Carl Rogberg, food commercial director John Scouler and head of food sourcing Matt Simister. The identity of the four senior executives was never officially confirmed.
At the time, Dave Lewis, newly appointed ceo of the UK’s biggest grocery retailer was careful to stress the decision was not an indicator of guilt.
Then on October 6, commercial director Kevin Grace was removed from his post as investigators Deloitte and law firm Freshfields continued the probe. More suspensions were widely expected, so the fresh announcement comes as no surprise.
Tesco is also understood to be drawing up plans to replace chairman Sir Richard Broadbent, with some reports claiming he was considering stepping down in the wake of Tesco’s financial nightmare.
Analysts have previously called for an overhaul of the Tesco board. Clive Black, director and head of research at Shore Capital, said after the storm broke: “... This development may raise, indeed must raise, much more fundamental questions over the chairman's position and the nature, composition and extent of the board.”