Suppliers are still reluctant to report retailers who breach the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCoP) for fear of damaging their relationships, a survey has revealed.
Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon said she was disappointed the number of suppliers who said they would report unscrupulous behaviour remained ‘stubbornly’ at about half.
This was despite publicity around the Tesco investigation which she said demonstrated her ability to ‘carry out a complex investigation with significant findings and benefits for suppliers with no identities revealed’.
“In the coming year I will be redoubling my efforts to overcome this fear factor and also to reach suppliers overseas where knowledge of the GCA remains low,” she told the GCA conference in London this week.
It came as the YouGov survey of suppliers, commissioned by the GCA, ranked Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Lidl the best performing supermarkets in terms of their treatment of suppliers and compliance with the GSCoP.
Suppliers, a proportion of which are farmers, told YouGov most retailers had improved their behaviour in the past year with the highest performer identified as Tesco – 65 per cent of those supplying the retailer saying its practices had improved and only 5 per cent reporting they had worsened.
Mrs Tacon said she was encouraged to see a fall in the number of suppliers experiencing Groceries Code-related issues, with 62 per cent of direct suppliers saying they had experienced an issue in the past year, compared to 70 per cent in 2015 and 79 per cent in 2014.
The adjudicator said the 10 biggest companies covered by the code would be charged £2 million this year in order to fund a potential investigation.
For the first time, those involved in the key issues being examined in the coming year will be charged a larger proportion.
The key issues to be investigated are: charges for artwork and design services, delay in payments, margin maintenance, pay to stay arrangements and payments for better positioning.