Issue 30: News from the referee

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I am delighted to announce that earlier this week I published my Annual report 2021-22.

This is the ninth annual report published by the GCA and covers one of the most eventful years of any report. As you are no doubt aware, inflation has forced suppliers to make more and more requests for cost price increases (CPI) from retailers. The responses from retailers, operating in a highly competitive industry, have strained supplier relationships and weakened the bonds that have developed as the wider industry reacted to Covid and associated shortages.

In the annual report, I mention my 7 golden rules, published in response to this issue. The rules are based on best practices I’ve seen among retailers and help ensure suppliers are treated fairly in tough negotiations.

Other issues discussed in the report include shortages in supply chains, including truck drivers, ingredients and packaging. I’ve also heard from suppliers about inexperienced buyers and the impact on their relationships with retailers. I discuss how I answered these questions in the report.

You can also find in the Annual Report detailed information on how GCA works, including my collaborative approach to working with retailers and my strategic goals. It also includes the legal reporting requirements of the GCA, a report on corporate governance and an update on the financial situation of the GCA.

Annual conference

The GCA 2022 conference: “The Code for a Changing World” will take place virtually on September 28, between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. (BST). I am delighted that hundreds of suppliers from 20 countries have already registered to attend. I look forward to discussing the challenges facing the grocery industry and the support available to suppliers with representatives from trade associations, retailers and other experts. In the afternoon, suppliers also have the opportunity to hold individual meetings with me and each of the Code Compliance Officers. The meeting booking system is now open.

The conference is free.

To join the hundreds of other vendors at the conference, Register now.

Statutory review

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is conducting its third statutory review of the GCA. BEIS is seeking opinions and evidence that will enable the government to assess the performance of the GCA against the measures set out in the Grocery Stores Code Arbitrator Act 2013.

To do this, BEIS asks a series of questions, including the impact of GCA on the grocery market and the effectiveness of Code enforcement. Questions also arise about the transfer of GCA functions to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) or another public body.

BEIS seeks the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including retailers subject to the Code, one or more persons representing the interests of suppliers, one or more persons representing the interests of consumers, and any other interested persons or parties.

The consultation closes on October 11, 2022. Find out more and respond to the consultation.

Working with Amazon

Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) was designated on March 1, 2022 by the Competition and Markets Authority, and I communicated promptly with the company to ensure that they act quickly to ensure compliance . Thanks to my early engagement with Amazon, the 7 golden rules for IPCs have been incorporated into their internal guidelines for grocery buying teams.

I will continue to work with Amazon and am thrilled to have Alex join one of my annual conference panels.

Before that, you can see Alex talking about his job at Amazon.

Before that, you can hear Alex talk about his work at Amazon here..

If you are an Amazon seller supplying groceries for sale in the UK and have concerns about Amazon’s compliance with the Code, please contact Alex or with me.

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