Tesco staff to share £144m savings scheme payout

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The Independent Online

Workers from supermarket giant Tesco are sharing a record £144 million payout after one of the group's savings schemes matured, it was announced today.

More than 55,000 staff who took part in the Save As You Earn share scheme have made returns of between 44 per cent and 100 per cent on their cash.

Under the scheme, workers save between £5 and £50 of their salary each month for a period of three or five years.

When the scheme matures they receive a tax-free cash bonus and are given the option to reinvest the total amount they have saved in Tesco shares, which can be bought at a discount price set when they first joined the scheme.

Staff can then sell the shares immediately or keep them and sell them at a later date.

The option price for people who joined the scheme five years ago was 232p per share, while for those who joined it three years ago it was 307p.

Tesco's share price had risen to 422p on February 1, when the scheme matured, giving a return of 100 per cent on the five-year scheme and 44 per cent on the three-year one.

As a result, more than 9,000 workers who saved the maximum of £50 a month for five years are receiving payouts of £6,000.

At least one worker is using the money to buy a new car, while another is spending it on a family holiday to Florida - including swimming with dolphins and skydiving - to celebrate her 40th birthday.

David Potts, retail director for Tesco, said: "Tesco's Save As You Earn scheme has really delivered for thousands of employees this year.

"With reports suggesting that 2010 could be another year of stretching personal budgets for many people, today's returns will be a very welcome boost to income and are well deserved for the continued dedication and hard work of our colleagues."

Around 77,000 Tesco staff in the UK and Republic of Ireland were members of the group's Save As You Earn scheme at the end of last year, 8,000 more than in 2008.