Christine Tacon named as supermarket ombudsman


Christine Tacon explains what her role as 'Groceries Code Adjudicator' involves

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Christine Tacon, who ran the Co-operative's farming unit for 11 years, has been named by the government as the first supermarket ombudsman.

The creation of the post was first recommended by the Competition Commission in 2008 to resolve disputes between supermarkets and suppliers.

As "Groceries Code Adjudicator", Ms Tacon will have the power to fine misbehaving supermarkets.

She will hold the post for four years, once a law creating the post is passed.

Ms Tacon will be responsible for policing the "groceries supply code of practice", which was instituted under the last government in 2010 in order to ensure that the 10 biggest supermarket groups - with annual turnover of over £1bn each - did not abuse their relations with their suppliers.

Anonymous tip-offs

"It's quite a big responsibility, trying to represent the direct suppliers and making sure they've got fair contracts with the retailers," Ms Tacon told the BBC.

The code of conduct came two years after the conclusion of a major two-year review of the supermarkets by the Competition Commission, which criticised the exclusivity arrangement often signed between the supermarket chains and their suppliers.

One of the past practices banned by the code of conduct, according to Ms Tacon, involved supermarkets receiving a payment from a packaging firm in return for forcing their suppliers to use that packaging firm even if it was more expensive.

However, she will not officially take up the watchdog role until the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill is passed by Parliament later this year. In the meantime she will act as "Adjudicator-Designate".

"This is an incredibly important position in the retail groceries sector making sure that large supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly and lawfully," said Consumer and Competition Minister, Jo Swinson.

Ms Tacon will be able to investigate anonymous tip-offs from suppliers.

"It's a reactive role - I have to get complaints before I can get actually involved and do something," she said. "There has been a lot of representation [from suppliers] that, although there is a code of practice, if it is not followed, people are frightened of complaining."

She said that the first stage, if she identifies a malpractice, is to make recommendations as to what supermarkets should do in future.

If a supermarket fails to comply, it can then be named and shamed, and - as a last resort - fined.

Ms Tacon has previously worked for Mars Confectionery, Vodafone and Anchor Foods, and currently holds a number of non-executive positions in the agriculture sector, including chair of the BBC's rural affairs advisory committee.

She will earn £69,000 per year in her new job, working three days a week.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    69k for 3 day week!!!!! are they sure?

    I would do the job for 50k for a 5 day week and i know exactly where to start with these supermarkets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    92 'fallingTP'
    What you forget, is that the majority of farmers in the UK contribute to the economy by producing, for the population, in the form of that thing called food!

    If you want to complain about how few people they employ - isn't that what you advocate - that farming should be more efficient? You can't have it both ways.

    You also forget the huge subsidies we pay to banks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Another well paid, expensive, Regulator. Still not much to beat, the Financial Service Authority meant to inspire confidence in the UK’s financial services, ticked millions of boxes but missed the financial crisis. The Food Standards Agency, record obesity in the UK but we now have coloured labels on food and warnings on packets of peanuts to say “contains nuts”.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    "clean up all aisles"

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    90. Philjer
    "£69 for a 3 day week"
    Meant £69K - mistyped.
    Also 4 yrs no doubt she will pick up more roles in related/dependent businesses to the supermarkets. And investigations will depend on tip offs. And the job looks after the interests just of suppliers not consumers. How about proactively investigating possible collusion between supermarkets and suppliers to the detriment of consumers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    The company I work for supplies Tesco, which levies more and more administration and "support" charges on us. It is just extortion, pure and simple. However in reality if we want to continue supplying them we have to pay them, and at the moment, the volumes justify the extra charges. Annonymous gripes will not lead to any worthwhile improvements for suppliers. This role is a waste of money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.


    "remind me what Labour did about tax avoidance"

    No need for me to defend anyone - unlike you I live in the real world, not your brain washed Tory propaganda machine, supporting a govt stuffed with multi-millionaires, who live off inherited wealth from tax avoidance, and get jobs through their connections, than merit, and you claim they speak for "everyone" is laughable!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Just searched online - tesco corporation tax - very revealing. Didn't search other supermarkets corporation tax because it would probably be similar and equally depressing.

    It's time suppliers and customers were more vocal about this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    The farm lobby in UK is quite powerful, & has clearly done a good job in capturing many posters on here. This is despite fact farmers constitute a tiny % of the labour force. One thing is clear; the tax on consumers to pay subsidy to farmers (about 20% cost of your food bill) is sufficiently oblique that most do not pay sufficient attention. Thsi is the real disgrace!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    smell the tax free coffee!"

    remind me what Labour did about tax avoidance by the likes of Starbucks during theirm 13 years in power?

    haha....what lost your voice or is it you know you've got no defence of Labour's tax record.....?

    Millionaires Tony Blair & David Miliband avoid taxes and laugh at you for giving them your votes....Labour were the tax avoiders' friend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    £69 for a 3 day week, plus no doubt a generous pension. How come this job wasn't advertised I would have applied and I don't have any ties to the industry and so would be completely impartial. Her non-executive roles would suggest she may not be completely impartial as those companies depend on their profits on the supermarkets. A real independent person should have been appointed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    "The difference is that the Tory politicans think low taxes are good for everyone"

    By "everyone" no doubt means millionaires and only Tory supporters"

    No, everyone means everyone. That's why personal allowances have inceased far more than Labour ever did. The evidence is there but your myopic devotion to Labour won't let you see it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    And who said the economy isn't creating jobs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Isn't she, or soon to be, an ombudswoman..

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    For a Government committed to cutting bureaucracy and public spending is this position really necessary? Or is it just another example of “jobs for the boys (girls)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    £69k for 3 days? That's better than Theo Walcott! Bet he'll be kicking himself now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.


    "Think that salary is excessive? Just had an email from Unite criticising proposed MP's salary rise. Fair enough, but not when the Gen. Sec. of Unite gets over £100k pa. Hypocrites".

    What is it, something along the lines of do as I say not do as I do. !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.


    Net profit margin 4.01%
    Operating margin 5.60%
    EBITD margin - 8.50%

    Hardly supernormal profitability
    Return on average assets 5.08%

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    7 Minutes ago "paying them a fair price for their goods"

    Supermarket operating margins are around 5%. They are highly competitive businesses in which profit margins are thin.


    A farming family I know produced cauliflowers for a well known supermarket which retailed at 89p, they were paid 8p, around a 1000% mark up -if that is a "thin profit margin", what is a good one?

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Am all for this so long as there is no conflict of interest seems the FSA had connections with big business. Seems like elemental rules and regulations are not enforced where the old boy network still rules and regulation is rode over rough shod. !!!


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