Supermarkets or High Street Retailers- where’s the difference?

I’ve recently received an invitation to a symposium in July to discuss the Competition Commission’s recent proposal to set up a Grocery Ombudsman to check on the affairs of the big supermarkets. After its inquiry into the grocery trade, it was the CC’s view that some large supermarkets are responsible for transferring ” excessive risk and unexpected costs” on to their suppliers.
It should be interesting to find out how Peter Freeman, Chairman of the CC and Keynote Speaker at the symposium, is going about setting up a new Supermarket Code of Practice and the Grocery Ombudsman position itself.
However, I read in the Sunday Times last week about Debenhams extending its payments to suppliers to 96 days amid claims that trading conditions “are deteriorating”. Debenhams join B&Q, Boots Alliance and Selfridges among other high street giants, in a list of companies that believe it’s perfectly OK to pass on any pain to suppliers in order to safeguard their own profit margins. In this respect, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the supermarket chains and other high street outlets. Maybe the supermarkets are right to moan about the fact they are facing the introduction of an Ombudsman to scrutinise their dealings with suppliers, whilst other retailers down the road from them are free to adopt similar tactics without fear of reprisal from the authoriies. Who said life was fair? Ask any trade supplier!

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