Danwood in Lincoln 'doing everything it can to protect staff from job losses'
The boss of one of Lincolnshire's biggest employers says the company has a bright future despite hundreds of jobs being put through consultation and the firm's founder being suspended.
Danwood chief executive Stephen Francis also said there was no link between the suspensions and an internal investigation into "accounting irregularities".
Chairman Colin Daniels has been suspended with senior directors Richard Coles, Peter Hopton and David Jones.
The printing equipment supplier, which has headquarters in Whisby Road in Lincoln, started consultations with 430 sales staff across the country this month. It has dismissed 35 short-service employees.
Mr Francis admitted some people in the Lincoln and Witham St Hughs operations could lose their jobs as a result of the consultations.
He said: "We are doing everything in our power to put this behind us and doing what we can to safeguard the remaining jobs in the company.
"Our focus is on our customers and our people.
"We want this interlude put behind us so we can continue to grow and flourish.
"The changes are designed to make us more efficient and focused so we can look to the next phase of our growth."
Mr Francis added the impact on 393 staff in Lincoln and 130 in the Witham St Hughs distribution centre would be "relatively small".
He said: "It's a hard thing to have to do and we're disappointed, but sometimes you have to do it. It's for the good of the hundreds of other people in the company."
Mr Francis refused to give details of why the four directors had been suspended.
He confirmed that the "accounting irregularities" were highlighted after a "whistle-blowing exercise" initiated by Mr Francis when he was appointed last autumn.
Mr Francis explained the 30-day redundancy consultations, started on January 11, were caused by a restructuring of the business.
Three national directors will now oversee sales operations across the country, reducing the autonomy of regional vendors and cutting the number of sales staff required. Mr Francis said the shake-up was necessary because "the profits have not been high enough".
The latest accounts show for the year ended September 30, 2011, Danwood recorded a pre-tax loss of £18.2m on turnover of £212m.
Its net loss for the year was £20.2m.
Mr Francis added the struggling UK economy had put pressure on the firm.
He said: "In this economic environment it's an unfortunate fact that in virtually every industry and virtually every company consultations are ongoing.
"We're looking to stay efficient so we can stay competitive in the market and remain in our position.
"The company is a Lincolnshire success story, there are no two ways about it.
"It's a big employer in the county and it's going to be profitable for many years and it will continue to be."
Danwood says in 40 years it has become Europe's largest independent supplier of office printing equipment and associated management services.
The group has 45 sites across the country and employs around 1,800 people.