power to the people…

6th September 2019

I had a really informative day yesterday attending the “Groceries Code Adjudicator Annual Conference, 2019” in the wonderfully historic Church House in Westminster – a building that acted as a temporary parliament for William Churchill’s government during the war after the Houses of Parliament took a direct hit!

It really was a celebration of the continued and great success that Christine Tacon and her team have achieved since the office of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) was set-up in 2008.

The tone at this year’s conference was slightly different to previous years with Christine announcing several pieces of important news:

  1. There were no “top issues” – these being specific items or potential code breaches that the CGA were working on with retailers following specific supplier feedback – this is a first and demonstrates great progress. There are currently no “open” arbitrations.
  2. Just about every metric was either constant or improved year on year – including improvements in key previous issues such as delays in payments, forecasting, “pay to stay” and promotions – again, a first!
  3. Christine also introduced a common factors approach to guide retailer’s compliance risk management activity – in essence, trying to get retailers to a position where they can pre-empt potential code breaches before they happen with the implementation of controls and procedures that “should” essentially red flag particular behaviours and traits upfront
  4. Christine also announced that this year would be her last year in office – and she was rightfully proud to describe the legacy that she will leave next year

Many suppliers attended the conference and awareness of the code is at an all-time high – with more than 90% of suppliers being aware of it. Disappointingly though, only 44% of all suppliers that completed the GCA survey have received any form of GSCOP training. Remember, 100% of supermarket buyers and teams receive annual training.

You’ve got to question if now is the time to allow the retailers to become more self-governing? Only 40% of suppliers believe that retailers are consistently code compliant and a return to more inconsistent behaviours would not be good for suppliers beginning to benefit from the GCA’s until now relentless focus. If this change does (inevitably) take place there could be potentially a slow movement back towards less savoury business practices including delays in payments, poor forecasting and less supplier / retailer collaboration.

4C Associates run GCA approved GSCOP training courses, offering full or refresher training facilitated by senior retailers using real life examples and scenarios bringing the code too life.

In the words of Christine Tacon and following the GCA’s mantra – “Get trained, know the code, speak up!”

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