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
    +3

    Comment number 120.

    Surely this regulator is charged with protecting the interests of the big supplier companies to supermarkets and as such they should pay the costs. Who protects the farmers and suppliers to the Major Suppliers I wonder?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 119.

    or even bien pensant :-)

    I have no problem with either opiton.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 118.

    116 'fallingTP
    ~~
    Yes, of course it was a slip of your tongue. Interestingly, the cost of our food in this country is heavily impacted by the high costs of distribution.
    High fuel duty, plus 20% VAT on top of that.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 117.

    Niice work if you can get it. Taxpayer funded I take it? I bet she deosnt need to rummage through the 'past sell day date' bin to make ends meet.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 116.

    "Bien peasant"

    Sorry slip of the tongue (altough appropriate enough) As said its extraordinary how the bien pendant see conspiracies everywhere yet find it unpalatable something as apparent as impact of supermkts in giving people what they want. Moreover they fail to oppose subsidising farming when in impact on food prices is obvious.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 115.

    110 'fallingTP'
    ~~
    Your response is interesting. You say:

    "those on here bien peasonts" and that "every high street still has a butcher, baker & fruit & veg salesman."

    I'm not sure whether you want to insult all those who comment here or delude.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 114.

    I thought Dave said he was going to do away with meaningless and powerless QUANGOs?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 113.

    Is this Ombudsman going to have enough power to do the properly?

    After all this Govt seem to specialise in giinvg their rich mate an easy ride at the expense of us plebs.....


    ....look at the gas/electricity ombudsman....


    ....not exactly ensuring us a good deal are they...???

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 112.

    Let's see if the high prices the UK pays for food come down at all. Crazy when we have the most efficient farmers in Europe,( or so the anti-europe brigade say.).

    I watch with interest.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 111.

    Ye gods!! Yet another overpaid jobsworth!!
    I thought cameroon was going to slash these quango-type posts!!
    £69,000 for a three-day week-says it all,doesn't it.
    Fed up to the back teeth with the people in westminster--milking the taxpayers yet again.
    A pox on them all!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 110.

    109. This is not true. There are vast array of places that consumers can purchase food; every high street still has butcher, baker & fruit & veg salesman. Moreover, there are city/town markets. Of course bien peasonts on here couldn't poss entertain idea supermarkets might actually give people what they want.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 109.

    108 'falling TP'
    ~~~
    The thing is that once the large retail operations embarked on a stealthy, long-term and deliberate strategic operation of controlling the suppliers to such an extent, on something as important as food, and taking smaller retail out of business, there is little place left for consumers to access alternatives.

    The spiral continues down to the lowest common denominator.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 108.

    "Supermarkets dont care about quality, just making profit"

    Well if that's the case then consumers will go elsewhere to buy their food (unless of course you consider the consumer to be without wit or under some Tesco, Waitrose or Sainsbury hex ).

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 107.

    When the major supermarkets give millions in bribes, sorry i mean donations to the political parties every year, you honestly think this woman is going to hammer the supermarkets for all their under hand tactics. Of course not!!! Just the Government using the media to let the country think they understand rising costs and are doing something about it

    The Gov are in the pockets or all big Corps.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 106.

    101 'fallingTP'
    ~~
    Well, I just wish MPs didn't get subsidies. No doubt their accountants do quite well. Plus, those barristers indirectly received those subsidies defending MPs via the court cases they had to face to defend their allowances/expenses fiddling.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 105.

    About 12 yrs ago, I tried to report a local 'hypermarket' to the council for 'Food Hygiene' offences. Their chilled/frozen food units were constantly breaking down & on one occasion after reporting to an assistant that lots of frozen meat products had completely thawed, all he did was move them to where they would refreeze, which is both unsafe & illegal.

    Needless to say, the council did nothing!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 104.

    Something needs to change in this country, Most supermarket fresh food is tastless and with minimal nutitional value because all they care about is filling the shelves and making it last as long as possible. Most meat is chewy and not the best cuts

    Supermarkets dont care about quality, just making profit

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 103.

    The "misbehavior" of supermarkets can't be as bad as we have been led to believe if "this incredibly important position" requires Ms Tacons' attention for only three days a week.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 102.

    This is a decorative post : governments are as putty in the hands of the supermarkets,as everybody well knows.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 101.

    99. What? Your thinking is typically garbled. I was not complaining about "how few people they employ" nor did I mention banks. Farmers are little diff to bakers, candle stick makers, baristas or accountants. They all do productive work. What I object to is that none of the other occupations mentioned above receive subsidy. And yes if the industry was more efficeint it would employ less people.

 

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