The best way suppliers can make use of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) is not to invoke it, a conference was told.
David Sables, CEO of Sentinel Management Consulting, said when negotiating with buyers it was better to imply knowledge of the code when unethical practices were suggested, rather than making reports to the groceries code adjudicator (GCA).
Speaking at the GCA Conference in London, Sables said: “The best way to use GSCOP is not to use GSCOP. Negotiate at the time the issue arises and resolve it early. The way to head things off is to show you have the knowledge.
“Use the code in a savvy way to avoid invoking it. People are not using the code in a way in which they can benefit from it best.”
Sables said suppliers were also reluctant to make reports to the GCA because of retribution from buyers, which would not be easy to identify. “They would be able to kill you and make it look like an accident,” he said.
Sables said the pressure on suppliers from supermarkets was being driven by changing shopping habits, which meant consumers were content to sacrifice choice for price.
“The supermarket chains are desperately trying to hold on to the market share they are losing and the discounters are trying to grab as much share as they can,” he said. “Supermarkets need to get their choice down: it’s not needed any more.”
GCA Christine Tacon said: “We need a new generation of buyers to get away from the old habits. There are ways of doing business where the code is not breached at all and I think that will become the way of doing business.”