New supermarket watchdog will 'level the playing field' for suppliers

12 November 2020

Mark White has pledged to level the “uneven playing field” for suppliers after being appointed as the UK’s second groceries code adjudicator (GCA).

White has succeeded Christine Tacon, the UK’s first GCA who was appointed to the role in 2013. White has been acting as deputy GCA for the past three months.

White previously was a member of the upper and lower tribunals at HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and was a lawyer at foodservice firm Compass Group, plumbing and heating distributor Wolseley, Enterprise Oil, and manufacturer Rotork. 

As a result, White said he had a “strong understanding of the food supply chain and recognise the fine balance that exists between suppliers and their customers as well as the wide disparity between the size of some parties to the buy/sell relationship”.

He said: “This is a significant time for the groceries sector and I am delighted to be in a role where I can play a part in ensuring fairness for those who supply our major supermarkets.

“The relationship between the UK’s regulated retailers and their direct suppliers is entering a new era created by or, in some cases, brought forward by, Covid-19 and that will bring its challenges.”

White said a great deal of progress had been made since the introduction of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice in 2009 and by Tacon during her seven-year stint in the role.

Tacon was due to depart from the role in June 2020, but extended her time in the role to manage the initial impact of the Covid pandemic. 

“However, there is still more to do and the pandemic has created huge economic challenges that will undoubtedly have an impact on the designated retailers and their direct suppliers.

“I want to bring my commercial and legal experience to ensure the retailers continue to comply with the code and build constructive relationships with their suppliers,” said White.

White said he wanted to “drive forward the whole-house approach to compliance including training within each of the retailers” and his objective was to “never to have to arbitrate a dispute or carry out an investigation”.

“To suppliers my message is that my door is open. I am there to support you and you can trust me to preserve your confidentiality at all times because I know concerns about retaliation can be very real,” he said.

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