“Government to Consider Scrapping the Grocery Code Adjudicator role…”
This is one hell of a headline from The Grocer magazine this week and one that I was shocked and disappointed to read.
The government, in a targeted drive, to “reform burdensome regulation and red tape” have in their wisdom, started to consider wrapping the responsibilities of the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) into the Competition & Markets Authority – a move that would (in my opinion) dilute the impact and effectiveness of the current GCA’s team and office. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the GCA is predominantly funded by those retailers that have to follow GSCOP, with grocery turnover exceeding £1bn annually.
To do this or consider this now feels wrong – supplier complaints and concerns with retailers are rising rapidly – I hear this daily from the many suppliers that I know.
The market remains volatile with many elements of it changing on an almost daily basis – uncertainty coming from rapidly rising commodities and associated inflation (9.8% on food, according to the ONS) and cost price moves, the war in Ukraine impacting amongst things, energy and manufacturing costs, all in the post-covid and Brexit world that we inhabit!
Arguably, the relationships between retailers and suppliers are at an all-time low right now, eroding the positive impact of relationship and trust building that has taken place over the last decade or so. GSCOP has facilitated a much better and more collaborative way of working between buyers and suppliers. Anything now and in this particular climate, that has the potential to disrupt the fair and lawful treatment of suppliers needs to be considered carefully.
Not everyone agrees with my opinion – some would argue that the adjudicator’s past and present could have been more impactful with only a handful of investigations behind them. I see this to some degree as being a positive outcome of GSCOP and the GCA where relationships between buyer and supplier have improved and continue to do so, with disputes being managed without the need for intervention.
Even if some are frustrated at what they see as the Adjudicator’s lack of teeth – now is not the right time to greet the government’s “efficiency drive” with anything other than nervousness!
What do you think?