GSCOP training can benefit compliance in the grocery sector

03 July 2019 3 min. read

The Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) has been around in its current guise since the second inquiry into the supermarkets by the then-Competition Commission in 2007 / 2008. To facilitate and manage the ongoing compliance to GSCOP by designated retailers, the office of the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) was set-up and established by Christine Tacon.

This year’s conference recently held in Westminster, was somewhat celebratory in its delivery – and why not! Tacon and her team have orchestrated and delivered some fantastic results and achievements since the GCA’s conception. The annual survey completed by over 1,500 suppliers delivered results that, for the first time, showed that supplier concerns had improved for every one of the key nine issues that had been the focus of attention. 

Tacon also showed how, strikingly, the four retailers (Tesco, Morrisons, ASDA, Co-op) who had received her focus throughout the previous year, had improved the most. There is a strong correlation between receiving GCA focus and retailers improving performance. 

It therefore came as a slight surprise to hear that in the future a “common factors” approach to guide retailer’s compliance risk management activity would be considered and adopted. Or to put it a slightly different way, the CGA will take a more distant role, relying on the retailers' controls and procedures to “red flag” or highlight potential compliance issues before they occur.

GSCOP training can benefit compliance in the grocery sector

As the scope and breadth of the CGA will undoubtedly continue to broaden – for example, this year saw the inclusion of B&M Bargains and Ocado as designated retailers and the supplier survey highlighted growing concerns with Amazon and other retailers – the time the GCA can devote to specific cases will likely decrease. 

Suppliers supplying the designated retailers, therefore, need to be familiar with the code and its 17 rules, plus the context and the overarching principles of it. There could potentially be a gradual reduction in compliance as time passes, with a more self-governing process and code familiarity, plus getting a feel for when boundaries are being crossed rather than just being in a tough negotiation, becoming key.

It is great that awareness of the code is at an all-time high – with more than 90% of suppliers familiar with its existence. Disappointingly though, only 44% of all suppliers that completed the GCA survey have received any form of GSCOP training. Remember, 100% of supermarket buyers and teams receive annual training. 

In the words of Tacon and following the GCA’s mantra – “Get trained, know the code, speak up!” 

An article by Simon Latham, a retail buying and category management expert at 4C Associates, a consulting and training firm specialised in procurement and retail buying.