David Tyler

David Tyler

Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler received an official warning from the company after using its suppliers to revamp his country home, it has emerged.

The Sainsbury’s board sent Tyler a warning letter after learning he had used contractors and members of the internal team to help with installations including an underfloor heating system and oil-fired boiler in 2013.

The board said Tyler had committed “material breaches” of three company policies that it viewed as an “extremely serious matter”, according to revelations published in the Guardian yesterday.

But Sainsbury’s said in a statement that the breaches were unintentional and Tyler had made no financial gain from his actions.

Tyler, who has chaired Sainsbury’s since 2009 and also holds board-level positions at Hammerson and Domestic & General warranty group, also donated £5,000 to charity to compensate for the time spent on the project by employees.

The breaches date back to 2013, when Tyler asked a member of the supermarket’s sustainability team to review plans for underfloor heating systems at his barn conversion. The employee visited his East Sussex property several times during working hours and asked a supermarket building contractor to develop a plan, which according to the Guardian was carried out for free. The same company worked alongside builders already employed by Tyler to conduct a £10,000 installation of an oil-fired boiler.

Tyler also sought advice from two other Sainsbury’s suppliers on alternative fuel sources for his heating system and asked an internal employee to carry out thermal imaging on the property.

Following the work, he contacted Sainsbury’s company secretary Tim Fallowfield about compensating the company for its employees’ time.

The subsequent board investigation found Tyler had breached the company’s code of ethical conduct and guidelines on ethical suppliers, but found he had paid the market rate for the work and had not benefited financially. It also deemed Tyler’s £5,000 charity donation equated to the cost of the work by Sainsbury’s staff on his project.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “This is a historical issue dating back to 2013. The chairman volunteered the information and the board conducted a thorough investigation in line with company policy, as they would with any other colleague in the same circumstances. As a result of the investigation, the chairman was given a warning but the board concluded that his failure to comply with company policy was unintentional, that he did not act dishonestly and made no financial gain.”