I read in disbelief the article claiming that Asda's innovative Pay Me Early system (The Grocer, 10 May, p3 & p4) had created "chaos" and "sparked panic among suppliers".
Pay Me Early and our invoice tracking system, Where's My Invoice, were developed in response to feedback from suppliers as to how we could improve payment processes. The feedback from them has been extremely positive and a large number have made use of them.
Though our finance team explained in detail to your reporter how the system works you appear to have based your article purely on feedback from one supplier. Of the more than 2,000 suppliers we wrote to only two have sought clarification - hardly a sign of chaos or panic.
Asda has developed a service that allows suppliers to receive payments early, free of arrangement fees. To be crystal clear, it is not mandatory and it does not have any impact on current supplier payment terms.
It is disappointing that you have misrepresented a service that, if they choose to, helps them manage their cash flow effectively - which in the current economic climate surely we all recognise is extremely important.
The Editor responds: This story referred to "chaos" and "panic" brought about not by the scheme itself but by the letter from the finance department, and the confusion this caused among suppliers and Asda's team. It came about after receiving calls from four suppliers, not just a single supplier. We also showed the letter to senior industry executives who, like those suppliers, understood the letter to mean a discount. And the conversation we had with the finance team occurred at 5pm, hours after we had double and triple checked the nature of the offer with the Asda press office, during which we asked if Asda meant to offer 12% APR to small suppliers, or a 12% discount on the invoice as the letter appeared to suggest, and the team explicitly and repeatedly confirmed that the scheme was offering upfront payment in return for a 12% discount.