Breach of Groceries Code could result in supermarket fines

Breach of Groceries Code could result in supermarket fines

Competition Minister, Jo Swinson, has announced that supermarkets found to be mistreating suppliers could be subject to a fine by a new watchdog.

A groceries adjudicator will be able to name and shame offenders or have the power to impose fines where and when a dispute arises between a retailer and supplier. “Where supermarkets are breaking the rules with suppliers and treating them unfairly, the adjudicator will make sure they are held to account,” said Swinson. She emphasised that: “We expect fines to be used as a last resort, but the fact that the adjudicator has the power to impose them will send a strong message to retailers that compliance with the code is not optional.”

Reacting to the news the NFU head of government affairs Nick von Westenholz said: “We have campaigned long and hard to ensure the Adjudicator has the necessary teeth to ensure retailers are complying with the Groceries Code of Practice.

“Today’s announcement by the minister shows the government is committed to putting in place a workable system too. Previously the Adjudicator could, at best, only name and shame retailers found to have breached the code. The power to fine was held only in reserve, and may never have been made available. Now we know that, in cases of a serious breach, the Adjudicator can resort to a serious penalty. We are delighted that the government has listened to us and will be amending the Bill accordingly.

“We know from our members that they continue to suffer from unfair treatment by some retailers – so the news that we are now in sight of having an Adjudicator up and running, and with the right powers to do their job, hasn’t come a moment too soon.

“It will be critical now that we work with the Adjudicator, who we hope will be appointed shortly, to ensure the guidance they publish setting out how they will operate is fit for purpose too.”

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