Tesco has confirmed that it is commencing discussions with staff in its Irish stores in relation to possible redundancies.
The company has categorically denied that the move has anything to do with this week’s revelations that the company had overstated its profits.
In a statement to RTÉ News, Tesco said that it was in “early stage discussions” with some of its departmental stores’ managers to see if any wished to be redeployed to other roles or whether any would wish to apply for voluntary redundancy.
However, it has not indicated how many redundancies could emerge from its 15,000-strong workforce in Ireland.
It stressed that any redundancies would be voluntary and that staff were also being offered the option of moving from full-time to part-time employment.
Tesco said that with more than 2.5 million customer transactions per week, the company keeps the structures of its business under constant review to ensure that it offers the best possible service to customers.
It said that following a recent review, a “small” number of roles in its stores were changing to ensure they have more staff on the shop floor helping customers.
Tesco is a global brand with a market valuation of £18.8 billion and more than 500,000 employees. For two decades, it had experienced uninterrupted earnings growth.
Gerry Light, Assistant General Secretary of retail union Mandate, voiced surprise at the reports of potential redundancies at Tesco.
He said the company had not contacted the union, but noted that line managers would not necessarily be covered by a collective agreement.
Mandate has written to Tesco seeking details of its plans for the company and its workforce, he added.
Profit forecast cut
Earlier this week, Tesco cut its profit forecast for the third time this year after finding a fault in its accounts, the latest blow of several to the reputation of the grocer.
Britain’s accounting regulator said it will study the outcome of Tesco’s probe into book-keeping mistakes before deciding whether to take enforcement action.
Accounting errors in supplier contracts forced the world’s third biggest retailer to suspend its UK boss along with three other senior executives this week.
It also admitted it had overstated expected first half profit by £250m in a previous trading update.
The company has opened an internal investigation.
The FRC said in a statement it does not have powers to monitor or require restatement of unaudited trading statements. Trading updates do not have to be checked by an external accounting firm.
“It will consider the outcome of the investigation announced by the company and determine whether it should take regulatory action,” the FRC said in a statement.
The FRC said it has disciplinary powers to punish misconduct by any Tesco staff who are members of a professional accounting body.
Staff working in the finance divisions of big companies are often qualified accountants.
UK business secretary Vince Cable has said the FRC could be called in to investigate Tesco if it transpires that “serious malpractice” has taken place.
Tesco has appointed accounting firm Deloitte to review the accounting issues, working closely with Freshfields, the retailer’s external legal advisers.