Our Insights


GSCOP – What’s the fuss all about?

Bonfire Admin July 22, 2019

This week, the Co-op has been found guilty of breaching the Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) and ordered to pay £1.3m in costs and £650k back to affected suppliers. So what does this mean for you?

If you supply your products to any of the following retailers or work for one of these retailers and deal with suppliers… read on!

Tesco, Asda, JS, Morrison’s, Co-op, Waitrose, B&M, Ocado, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, M&S

This group, which includes discounters, multiple grocers and online retailers all sell more than £1bn of grocery products a year and consequently are all bound by the guiding principles of GSCOP. 

Over 90% of the UK’s grocery spend is carried out at these 12 well known flags!

The second iteration of GSCOP was launched following the Competition Commissions (now the Competition and Markets Authority) enquiry into the supermarkets in 2010 – it improved upon the original code (from 2001) with the introduction of fines for potential breach. 

GSCOP’s overarching principle that should be applied in any day to day discussions, commercial arrangements or during any two-way dialogue between the buyer and the seller, is that you treat people how you yourself would want to be treated. This principle of “fair dealing”, is not only the common thread throughout GSCOP, but it importantly sets the tone or environment under which any discussions should be carried out. 

Anecdotally, as a supplier, if you feel uncomfortable with how you are being treated in a discussion with a retailer, there is a possibility that the code is in some way being flaunted. Requests are often framed in a way that leaves little to the imagination if not fulfilled – if the consequence of not doing something is punitive, having a good working knowledge of GSCOP would be hugely advantageous and would help you find a palatable solution to the issue. 

Often and perhaps most frequently, issues are resolved amicably when both parties are aware of the boundaries of right and wrong that GSCOP helps you determine. GSCOP does not give you black and white numbers and firm rules – every issue requires the need to agree and determine what “reasonable” looks like. GSCOP’s power therefore, is its ability to bring parties together in a collaborative fashion to resolve issues amicably. 

GSCOP itself is split into 6 parts containing 17 rules. The 17 rules cover a broad spectrum of areas including common areas of tension such as delays in payments, costs for waste and shrink, acceptable payments for promotions and new lines etc, plus much more. 

The rules also face into the bigger concerns that arise when products are de-listed and there is an ensuing desire for escalation and a “second opinion”. 

At 4C we have trained more than 3,000 people from both suppliers and retailers. We can offer a half-day or full day workshop that includes working through live, current issues. Our consultants can help you create a plan of action to manage any issues and will remain available to help guide you through any issues after training. 

The workshops are interactive and can be held for between 12 to 16 people at a time. We are more than happy to speak to you to discuss any requirements so that courses can be tailored accordingly. The workshops are interactive and benefit from having relatively small groups ready to discuss their issues!

Get ahead, get GSCOP aware. Savings of several million pounds have been generated as a direct consequence of following through GSCOP plans…

Get in touch : Simon.Latham@4Cassociates.com