Retailers reject Grocery Code Adjudicator Bill
The draft Bill was unveiled yesterday by Consumer Minister Edward Davey in a bid to prevent retailers from passing on excessive risks or unexpected costs to suppliers.
It seeks to establish an adjudicator to monitor and enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. Acting as an arbitrator in disputes between retailers and their direct suppliers, the adjudicator would have the power to start investigations about potential breaches of the Code, based on complaints from suppliers or information in the public domain.
Reacting to the publication of the draft legislation, BRC Food Director Andrew Opie said: "The supermarket adjudicator will just add costs to retailers and push up shop prices for customers.”
The BRC said in spite of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice being in existence for more than a year now, it had yet to discover even one dispute between stores and suppliers going to independent arbitration.
Opie said: "The UK has the most regulated grocery sector in the world. If the Government is set on this ill-judged course it must at the very least keep the regulatory burden and related costs to an absolute minimum, for the good of shoppers across the country."
He continued: "The Bill says the adjudicator will cost only £800,000 a year to run, to be paid for by the ten biggest food retailers. If the Government really believes a public body can be run that cheaply it should cap the charges imposed on them at that level and commit to funding any extra costs itself.”
Consumer Minister Edward Davey said: “Preventing unfair practices and increasing certainty for suppliers will safeguard consumer interests, as large retailers won’t be able to take advantage of their position of power, as set out in the Code."
Agriculture and Food Minister Jim Paice commented: “This Bill will give teeth to the Code of Practice, will mean that bad practice can be stamped out and that suppliers can raise legitimate disputes confidentially, and without the fear that they’ll be penalised for speaking up through lost business.”
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