Almost nine out of 10 buyers say supermarket 'bullying' of suppliers damages the procurement...

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
9 March 2015

A total of 88 per cent of purchasers believe the “bullying” tactics of supermarket buyers are giving procurement professionals a bad name, according to exclusive research.

The survey, sent to CIPS members and resulting in 1,002 responses, found 'pay to stay' was the most disliked strategy employed by buyers, followed by late payment, lengthy payment terms and retrospective discounts.

David Noble, group CEO, CIPS, said: “Our members are unequivocal: the retail sector is not doing enough to clean up its act after years of scandals. It’s time the industry sat up and took notice."

Just over 30 per cent of respondents felt instances of modern slavery or the use of child labour were the biggest scandals to hit the retail sector, followed by the horse meat scandal, supermarkets treating suppliers as “cannon fodder”, and the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse.

Noble added: “This is a fascinating piece of research on the thoughts from the profession on this sector and won’t be easy for retail buyers to read at times. But the ultimate responsibility must sit with boards and CEOs of companies to interrogate their supply chains and understand what exactly is happening and who is responsible and accountable.”

Most respondents believed greater supply chain transparency was the best way to improve retailers’ reputation (44 per cent), along with helping customers understand the potential human cost of cheap goods (28 per cent) and better relations with suppliers (23 per cent).

However, speed to market was the most admired aspect of retail supply chains by a wide margin (35 per cent), followed by development of international suppliers (22 per cent) and innovation and creativity (21 per cent).

Noble said: “There has to be some humanity in the relationship with suppliers in the retail sector, and I hope that as the debate continues, this will come to the fore.

“In the end, the basic principles of good procurement practice are the same. Whichever profession practices them, procurement skills are transferable across all sectors and if other sectors can act responsibly using our Code of Ethics then retail can too.”

No supermarket wished to comment on the research, and nor did the British Retail Consortium.

Full analysis of the survey results will appear in the March edition of Supply Management which is out tomorrow

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