Addressing an IFA Conference in Dublin on Retail Regulation, IFA President Joe Healy said the positive impact of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon in the UK reinforced the need for a similar role in Ireland.
Joe Healy said, “The work of Christine Tacon in the three years since her office was established in the UK as part of retail legislation provides irrefutable evidence of the need for independent enforcement of retail regulation in Ireland. The progress made in strengthening the supply chain and addressing supplier issues clearly supports IFA’s demand for an independent retail Ombudsman. This is necessary to assure suppliers that complaints will be investigated and abuses prosecuted.”
The appointment of a retail Ombudsman in Ireland, who can take up complaints and grievances of suppliers over mistreatment by retailers, remains a key objective of IFA.
The IFA Conference was also addressed by the Minister for Enterprise Mary Mitchell O’Connor and John Shine from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission – You can take a look at presentations here
The GCA’s most recent annual survey showed a 17% drop in suppliers saying they had experienced potential breaches of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice in 2016 compared to 2014. Suppliers also cited improvements over the preceding year across a range of practices:
- Incorrect deductions from invoices with or without notice – down from 47% to 30%
- De-listing without reasonable notice – down from 34% to 22%
- Unjustified payments for consumer complaints – down from 30% to 22%
In her presentation to the conference, Christine Tacon said major progress had been made since the establishment of the GCA in 2013. “All the retailers acted on issues I raised with them last year and suppliers reported that most retailers’ behaviour had improved. However, I am acutely aware that over 60% of those who responded to my annual survey had still experienced Code-related issues.
“I will continue to work with suppliers, retailers and customers to achieve change in the sector. My current focus is on payments for better positioning, margin maintenance, delay in payments and pay to stay”.
Christine Tacon also told the conference about her investigation into one retailer which led to the finding that the retailer had seriously breached the Code on delay in payments. The Adjudicator required the retailer to fund the costs of her investigation, estimated at €1.2m.
The Adjudicator reminded the Conference that her remit extends to suppliers outside the UK who have dealings with the 10 regulated retailers in that jurisdiction. “If a supplier has an issue, bring me the information about breaches of the Code and I will act swiftly.”
Christmas message – IFA will not tolerate below-cost selling
Ahead of the Christmas shopping season, Joe Healy said growers were the victims in a vicious battle over market share in recent years, when retailers savagely discounted Irish potatoes and vegetables.
“I want to put down a marker here today: this action by retailers, when some items were sold at one tenth of their production cost, will not be tolerated. This action by retailers had a very negative effect on the wholesale sector and farmers have seen this avenue of sales vanish.
Retailers claim that they pick up the cost of these ‘crash-price promotions’. The reality is that below-cost selling means a lower price across the board for our produce.”