Did someone cook the books at Tesco?
Tesco has suspended four key executives after announcing that the company overstated profits by nearly $409 million over a six-month period.
Tesco’s new CEO, Dave Lewis, who joined the company on Sept. 1, said the company had found some accounting irregularities and was working with Deloitte and the firm Freshfields to conduct a "full and frank investigation" into the matter.
The four executives suspended are: Chris Bush, Tesco’s managing director in the U.K; Carl Rogberg, the company’s U.K. finance director; Matt Simister, responsible for group sourcing; and John Scouler, commercial director.
"The board, my colleagues, our customers and I expect Tesco to operate with integrity and transparency and we will take decisive action as the results of the investigation become clear," Mr. Lewis was quoted by The Telegraph.
An employee of the company is reported to have alerted Tesco’s general counsel about a problem with its accounts last Friday. The overstatement is tied to Tesco booking supplier payments too early while not accounting for some costs on a timely basis.
"Lots of different businesses flex when they choose to put certain checks in the bank to hit quarterly targets," Bryan Roberts, an analyst with Kantar Retail, told The Guardian. "This is mobile money not related to the timing of sales. But it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul because if you bring it forward you would have to compensate in the following period."
- Trading Update – Tesco PLC
- Tesco CEO: ‘Full and frank inquiry’ into profit overstatement – BBC News
- Tesco suspends execs as inquiry launched into profit overstatement – BBC News
- Tesco Investigates Accounting Error – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Tesco loses £2bn in value as profit overstatement investigation begins – The Guardian
- Tesco suspends four executives over £250m accounting scandal – The Telegraph
What do you make of the accounting irregularities at Tesco described in reports? Is this practice standard procedure in retailing circles?