Christine Tacon is to continue as groceries code adjudicator (GCA) for up to six months to maintain continuity and provide reassurance to the groceries sector through the coronavirus outbreak.
Tacon has already served two terms as GCA and was planning to step down from the role on 24 June but has agreed to continue in the post as a temporary measure.
The GCA role was introduced in 2013 to ensure a level playing field between the UK’s largest supermarkets and their direct suppliers.
Small business minister Paul Scully said: “We are doing everything we can to make it easier for grocery suppliers to do their job.
“Christine’s reappointment will provide them with some much-needed continuity and reassurance in what is a very unsettling time.”
The government has temporarily relaxed domestic competition rules so that supermarkets, their suppliers and logistics providers can work together to keep food supplies going during the pandemic.
Tacon said: “I had intended to step down as groceries code adjudicator in June when my term of office ended.
“However, I want to play my part in the response to Covid-19 and so offered to extend my contract in order to provide the continuity the sector needs.”
The government said Tacon had succeeded in improving compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, launched in 2009, with the proportion of suppliers experiencing code-related issues dropping from 79% in 2014 to 41% in 2019.
In 2014 suppliers assessed retailers’ compliance with the code as between 58% and 90%. In 2019 the range was 81% to 97%, with 10 out of 12 retailers achieving a compliance rate of at least 90%.
The government launched a process in October 2019 to identify Tacon’s successor and said it expects to make a decision shortly.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.