The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) is committed to being open about discussions with retailers’ Code Compliance Officers (CCOs).
The GCA (Christine Tacon) and members of her team met with the CCOs and other representatives from the regulated retailers.
3 June 2019
|Aldi Stores Limited
||Chris Young (CCO) and Richard Cramp
||David Ward (CCO) and Jodie Tattersall
|Ocado Group plc
||Jo West (CCO) and Carolyn Bane
5 June 2019
|Asda Stores Limited
||Sarah Dickson (CCO) and Vicki Ruddock
|Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc
||Steven Butts (CCO), Denise Harris and Andrew Clappen
|Iceland Foods Limited
||Duncan Vaughan (CCO) and Sarah Hutchinson
10 June 2019
|Lidl UK GmbH
||Sophie Wettlaufer (CCO) and Katrin Sueβer
|Co-operative Group Limited
||Saleem Chowdhery (CCO), Michael Fletcher, Gill Gardner and Andy Phelps
|Marks and Spencer plc
||Max Gillibrand (CCO), Robert Steadman and Stephen Spellman
12 June 2019
|J Sainsbury plc
||Helen Charnley (CCO) and Jillian Hardwick
||Matt Wilson (CCO), Sarah Tomsett, and David Brock
|B&M European Value Retail SA
||Paul McDonald (CCO) and Paul Owen
Key points raised
Issues from the previous set of minutes
There was an update on any issues arising from the previous set of minutes.
GCA annual levy 2019/20
The GCA provided each retailer with the details of the share of the annual levy they would pay during the current financial year.
GCA annual conference 2019
The GCA set out her plans for the annual conference to be held on 24 June 2019. As in previous years the GCA would present her review of the previous year and her forward look. YouGov would present the outcome of the groceries sector survey. There would also be a presentation from Michael Hutchings, Independent Chair of the Supply Chain Initiative. All CCOs had agreed to make themselves available for informal conversations with suppliers during the lunch break.
GCA annual survey
Retailers were given an overview of the results of the GCA’s annual survey and their individual retailer specific packs. The results would be announced at the conference.
The GCA had reviewed information provided by the original 10 designated retailers about their
progress on the monitored issues of delay in payments, forecasting and promotions. The GCA raised queries with some retailers based on the information they had provided. On delay in payments, all retailers that made use of drop and drive were able to demonstrate that they had taken steps to minimise the risk of delay in payments arising from this practice; nine retailers had explicitly confirmed that they provided suppliers with 30 days in which to challenge proposed invoice deductions; all retailers confirmed they resolved pricing errors within seven days; all retailers confirmed that supply agreements or supplier handbooks outlined all charges and the basis for any charges as well as providing information on how a supplier could challenge a proposed invoice deduction; all retailers had in place a single point of contact or supplier helpline to enable suppliers to raise queries; and all retailers except one confirmed they trained their finance teams on the Code.
On the issues of forecasting and promotions the GCA was satisfied that retailers had demonstrated they were working towards her published best practice statement. The GCA had however written to three of the original 10 retailers to clarify a number of issues, in particular where it was unclear how they could demonstrate to her that any blanket exclusion in a supply agreement would be compliant with the Code in light of her stated view that there would almost always be some circumstances in which compensation may be appropriate; or where it was unclear how a retailer could demonstrate how the due care test could be met in light of her view that it was unlikely to be capable of being met by a retailer that provided no way for a supplier to contribute to the forecasting process.
The GCA was broadly content with the progress made by retailers and the most recent survey indicated that suppliers were reporting fewer issues in relation to delay in payments, forecasting and promotions. The GCA intended to move the issues to previous although she would continue to work with some retailers on them. In 2014, eight of the 10 original designated retailers signed up the GCA’s voluntary commitment to limit the auditing of suppliers’ trading accounts in search of missed claims to no more than the current and previous two financial years, on a reciprocal basis with those suppliers. Waitrose Limited confirmed it would also now also sign up to the voluntary commitment.
Additional two designated retailers: all Top Issues
Ocado Group plc (Ocado) was continuing to review how it was working towards the GCA’s stated position on each of the Top Issues. In line with this, Ocado confirmed it would sign up to the GCA’s voluntary commitment in relation to forensic auditing and that it was working towards the GCA’s published best practice statements on forecasting and promotions, and on consumer complaints. It was the GCA’s first meeting with B&M European Value Retail SA (B&M) and she would be working with the retailer to understand more about which of her Top Issues were relevant to its business practices.
Report of the investigation into Co-operative Group Limited
There was an opportunity for CCOs to ask any questions about the report of the investigation into Co-operative Group limited.
Issues in the retailer’s progress report to the GCA
The GCA discussed any issues covered in the retailer’s progress report to the GCA.
Issues raised by direct suppliers
The GCA highlighted any issues being raised by direct suppliers specific to a particular retailer or issues which the GCA wanted to raise with all retailers.
Any other business: Code confident activities
The GCA highlighted activities she had undertaken to raise awareness of her role and the Code.
Any other business: Statutory review of the Groceries Code Adjudicator
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was due to publish its statutory review of the GCA and would write to retailers about this when it was published.
Any other business: Annual compliance reports and meetings with chairs of retailer audit committees (or equivalent)
The GCA had read retailer’s annual compliance reports and offered comments in the meeting. More detailed feedback would be provided in writing. The GCA had also now written to chairs of retailer audit committees (or equivalent) to invite them to meet with her later in the year.