The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) is committed to being open about discussions with retailers’ Code Compliance Officers (CCOs).
11 November 2019
Lidl UK GmbH
Aldi Stores Limited
Co-operative Group Limited
Ocado Group plc and Ocado Retail Limited
13 November 2019
Asda Stores Limited
J Sainsbury plc
Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc
Iceland Foods Limited
18 November 2019
Marks and Spencer plc
20 November 2019
B&M European Value Retail SA
Key points raised
Issues from the previous set of minutes
There was an update on any issues arising from the previous set of minutes.
Issues in the retailer’s progress report to the GCA
The GCA discussed any issues covered in each retailer’s progress report to the GCA.
Crates and pallets
The GCA had previously started an exercise following supplier concerns about requirements to use particular crate and tray supplier companies and pay associated charges either to those companies or to retailers as handling charges. Retailers had received letters seeking clarifications on several points relating to plastic crates/trays for transporting fruit and vegetables to ensure the responses from all retailers were comparable. The GCA thanked retailers for their responses and will be writing to set out any next steps.
The GCA reminded CCOs that she wanted to understand each retailer’s involvement in buying alliances of different types and how they might be considered from a Code compliance perspective.The GCA had written to retailers about this asking for a response by 6 January 2020.
Whole organisation approach to Code compliance
The GCA thanked CCOs for their responses to her request for information on each retailer’s steps towards taking a whole-organisation approach to Code compliance, ensuring proactive compliance risk management is embedded at all levels in each business, and is reflected consistently in its governance; legal, compliance and audit functions; internal systems and processes; training on the Code and communication with suppliers. The GCA will be writing to retailers once she has assessed the information received and will discuss this further in the February CCO meetings.
Issues raised by direct suppliers
The GCA highlighted any issues being raised by direct suppliers specific to any particular retailer as well as issues which the GCA wanted to raise with all retailers.
Annual compliance reports (ACRs) and meetings with chairs of retailer audit committees (or equivalent)
The GCA was pleased that the quality of the ACRs from retailers had further improved since last year and welcomed the information retailers are putting into the public domain. The number of supplier issues recorded by retailers also increased again indicating that there is better recording by retailers of issues that arise, although the GCA noted that there is scope for better and more detailed recording of issues raised by suppliers to enable retailers to capture the broadest range of useful supplier information. The GCA asked retailers to continue to focus on how they collect and record information about Code related issues raised in their business.
GCA annual survey
Retailers were asked for suggestions of anything they thought it would be helpful to ask suppliers in the next GCA annual survey, in addition to the questions usually posed. The GCA explained that this survey will be launched in early 2019 and asked CCOs to ensure it was promoted across their supplier base.
Code confident activities
The GCA highlighted activities she had undertaken to raise awareness of her role and the Code.
Statutory review of the Groceries Code Adjudicator
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) closed its statutory review of the GCA on 12 September 2019. A response will be published by BEIS in due course.
Any other business
The GCA informed retailers that the next one-to-one CCO meetings would be in February followed by a group CCO meeting in June. At the June meeting the GCA will present her final annual report and there will be a discussion of the annual survey results.