Sole-supplier uniform contracts 'permitted'

4 October 2007
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05 October 2007 | Paul Snell

Schools are still able to source uniforms from a single supplier if they pass cost savings on to parents, the government has admitted to SM.

New guidance published yesterday from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), emphasised schools that use only one uniform supplier could be breaking the competition act. The information said single-supplier contracts could restrict competition between retailers. But a spokeswoman at the DCSF told Supplymanagement.com that schools would be permitted to use one supplier if cost savings from bulk buying were passed on in lower uniform prices.

Schools minister Jim Knight, said in a statement released yesterday that the DCSF would particularly focus on penalising those schools with costly clothing prices. "We will take action where a school uniform is needlessly and prohibitively expensive," he said.

The Office of Fair Trading said it had written to governors and head teachers in January on this issue, but it was purely to "encourage" them to reconsider exclusive contracts.

The guidance, published on www.teachernet.gov.uk, added schools should not be trying to act as sole suppliers to raise extra revenue and urged them to consider sustainable sourcing.

SMoct2007

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