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TescoGate: suppliers should complain to Groceries Code adjudicator

Published:  24 October, 2014

A leading wine trade lawyer has called on suppliers who feel they have been badly treated by Tesco or any other supermarket, to complain to the Groceries Supply Code adjudicator.

Andrew Park, who runs APP Wine Law, says suppliers already have recourse without waiting for conclusions from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Suppliers have been telling about some of the deals demanded of them in the course of their relationships with Tesco over the past few weeks, as the investigation into the £263 million accounting error continued.

But Park says that suppliers can act now to complain about perceived unfair treatment at the hands of their major retailer customers.

Christine TaconGroceries Code adjudicator Christine TaconThe GSCOP adjudicator has already had success since she took up the role a year ago.

The adjudicator, Christine Tacon, has it within her power to impose fines on retailers if she believes they have acted improperly.

The GSCOP adjudicator has already had success since she took up the role a year ago.

Speaking at the end of September, Tacon said: "I have requested that compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice is included in the scope of the internal investigation and I have asked to be notified if Tesco finds practices which might breach the Code."

"I don't want to interfere in your commercial relationships with retailers, but if you know of a practice that is not only affecting you but is also likely to affect others, isn't that a justification to tell me so I can take action? Give me the tools and I can do the job," Tacon stated at the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association Show in Birmingham last month.

So far, Tacon has enjoyed major success in persuading eight out of 10 large retailers to commit to limit forensic audits to two years, rather than seven.

However, Tacon has warned that unless suppliers bring her evidence, she cannot pursue large retailers for reported breaches of the code. What's more, she said that unless more suppliers stand up to retailers and report possible breaches, it will be difficult to justify her role for very much longer.

Subscribers can read more in Andrew Park's full opinion piece.