Press release

Fines for supermarkets move a step closer

Measures that will grant the Groceries Code Adjudicator powers to fine UK supermarkets breaching the Groceries Code are laid in Parliament.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Measures that will grant the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) the power to fine UK supermarkets that have breached the Groceries Code have been laid in Parliament.

The Adjudicator will be able to impose penalties on the large supermarkets of up to 1% of their annual UK turnover, dependant on the seriousness of the breach. The GCA has published guidance on the principles that will be used to calculate the level of any fine.

These new measures will sit alongside existing powers to issue supermarkets with recommendations as to their future conduct, and to ‘name and shame’ those that have breached the code.

The code imposes on the supermarkets an over-arching principle of fair dealing with their direct suppliers; and includes, amongst other things, specific provisions governing terms of supply, timing of payments, marketing and promotional costs, and payments as a condition of being a supplier. The code does not govern issues relating to pricing.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

This important final step will give the Groceries Code Adjudicator the power it needs to address the most serious disputes between the large supermarkets and their direct suppliers.

I created the Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure a fair deal for those who supply goods to supermarkets such as farmers and small businesses. I am pleased today (29 January 2015) to be giving the Adjudicator the final element in a set of powers that will give this new body all the tools it needs to succeed in this challenging and important role.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator was created in 2013 to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice that, since 2009, has governed the commercial relationships between the UK’s 10 largest supermarkets and their direct suppliers of food, drinks, and a range of household products.

Notes to editors:

  1. These measures are subject to the successful completion of parliamentary process; including passage through the Joint Committee of Statutory Instruments and further debate in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
  2. A copy of the statutory instrument can be found at legislation.gov.uk
  3. A copy of the GCA guidance on the principles that will be used to calculate the level of any fine can be found at Statutory guidance on how the Groceries Code Adjudicator will carry out investigation and enforcement functions
Published 29 January 2015