Higginson: ‘Tesco pays on time’

Tesco FD Andrew Higginson
has defended the supermarket against charges that it does not pay its suppliers
on time.

Higginson hit back over the claims, detailed in Accountancy Age earlier this
year, that the company only paid
of its small invoices on time, saying he did not believe the figures
were accurate.

‘It is the last thing that should be happening. I am happy that is not the
case with Tesco,’ said Higginson. ‘We have electronic payments to suppliers so
don’t see that as the case, we have a variety of ways of interfacing with them.’
He added that he would look into any individual problems.

His comments come as the pressure builds on retailers with the Competition
Commission nearing release of its preliminary findings of its probe into the
grocery sector.

Higginson, awarded
Accountancy Age’s outstanding contribution award last week, said big
companies had an obligation to ensure small suppliers’ cashflow was healthy, and
said Tesco paid ‘around the 30 day mark’.

Research into 4,500 invoices by Accountancy Age, in conjunction with Graydon,
had found that UK retailers were failing to pay small suppliers on time. Tesco
paid 67% of invoices below £5,000 on time, compared to 87% a year earlier. The
commission subsequently requested the data as part of its investigations.

In an exclusive interview, Higginson also slated industry minister Margaret
Hodge for introducing supplier
contract disclosure
regime into the Companies Act.

He said that the level of disclosure within accounts was ‘already extreme’,
and it would be better to trim the amount of data in accounts.

He also expressed concern that the supplier disclosure legislation had
entered the bill without consultation.

‘There was lots of consultation back and forth on the bill, then out of the
blue this issue of supplier disclosure comes in, and the devil will be in the
detail. Obviously there are lots of concerns about revealing what is effectively
commercially sensitive data. It’s been handled badly’.

Further reading:

Small suppliers hit by
retailers’ ‘shocking’ late payment record

Video Exclusive: Andrew
Higginson group FD of Tesco

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