In the second formal investigation by the GCA, and the first since Christine Tacon has had the power to level penalties, the Co-op will be investigated for removing products from their stores.
The Groceries Code Adjudicator, Christine Tacon, has ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the Co-op has been systematically delisting suppliers which breaches a legally binding industry code of practice.
Vicki Hird, farming campaign coordinator said:
"It is good to see the Grocery Code Adjudicator investigating this potentially deeply unfair action by a powerful food buyer. The case highlights the need for constant vigilance, by the regulator, so that such unfair trading practices by the big retailers become a thing of the past. Suppliers, and their consumers, will suffer if they are squeezed so hard they can not produce food sustainably."
The GCA now has the power to level penalties of up to 1% of annual turnover. The Co-op’s annual turnover is £7bn so they could be facing a fine of £70m.
Tacon will investigate whether suppliers’ products were removed from stores with either short notice or no notice at all between summer 2016 - summer 2017.
The Co-op responded “we acknowledge that we have fallen short and have been discussing the two issues raised with the GCA for some months. We have already taken decisive steps in line with our commitment to ensure the fair treatment of all of our suppliers.”
This will be only the second formal investigation by the GCA since it began work in 2013. The first resulted in Tesco being charged £1m towards the cost of investigations.
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