Business secretary Vince Cable has expressed concern over Tesco’s treatment of suppliers in a move which will increase scrutiny on the criminal investigation into the circumstances leading up to the £263m black hole in its accounts.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills today revealed Cable had written to Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), Christine Tacon to push for a comprehensive review into the way Tesco has been negotiating deals with its suppliers.
The move comes a week after the Serious Fraud Office took over the investigation into what went on at Tesco, with eight of its senior executives, including UK MD Chris Bush and commercial director John Scouler, suspended .
“Mr Cable is aware that a criminal investigation is underway and its important not to pre-judge that in any way,” said a BIS source.
Ms Tacon said in September she would be closely monitoring the situation.
At the time she said: “I have requested that compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice is included in the scope of the internal investigation and I have asked to be notified if Tesco starts to find practices which might breach the Code.”
MPs have previously threatened to call Tesco executives past and present before parliament to explain the financial crisis, with some saying the issue poses wider questions about the industry.
Adrian Bailey, chairman of the parliamentary business committee, previously described Tesco’s error as “stratospheric” and said he believed it posed questions about the entire retail industry.
“We may well as a committee want to look at this,” Bailey told the BBC in September.
“Not just at Tesco but at what is going on in the retail industry and in the relationship with the suppliers to see if the issues we came across two years ago are still there,” he said.