That’s according to a confidential survey carried out for the Groceries Code Adjudictor.
Aldi, Waitrose , and Marks and Spencer received top marks for adhering to best practice on things like prompt payment and handling complaints.
The survey report describes a culture of fear among suppliers many of whom feel they have to accept bullying tactics from supermarket buyers for fear of retribution.
Overall last year 70% of suppliers had been treated in ways that breached the industry’s code, a drop from 79% the previous year.
Almost 10% more, at 47%, were willing to complain about issues like late payments, having to pay over the odds for packaging specified by the supermarket, demands for lump sums, and penalties for trivial complaints from shoppers.
There is a slow a problem with what is called “drop and drive” where suppliers’ consignments aren’t receipted properly leading to disputes over payment.
The majority don’t complain because they fear retribution and don’t have the confidence that the adjudicator will maintain confidentiality.
The industry adjudicator, Christine Tacon, can levy fines of up to 1% of UK turnover. Her first target was Tesco where it was found that they had booked millions of pounds profit for in-store marketing and seasonal promotions and which led to a Serious Fraud Office investigation.
The Times asked supermarkets for a response.
Tesco said “Suppliers are at the heart of our business and we’ve been working with them to change the way in which we work together“.
Morrisons said “We are listening to the information from the survey although we don’t believe it reflects the generally positive nature of our relationships with our suppliers”.
Iceland declined to comment.
Suppliers who say supermarkets fail to meet code of conduct (YouGov survey)
- Tesco 39%
- Iceland 30%
- Morrisons 30%
- Co-op 25%
- Asda 15%
- Waitrose 12%
- Lidl 11%
- M & S 10%
- Sainsbury’s 9%
- Aldi 6%
First posted in June 2015