Despite Asda's claim its coffers would take the financial hit, suppliers were only too aware that what its plans to improve buying performance by 5% meant for the trade was actually "more out of you for less". Unfortunately, it was down to the buyers, the very people who had been told to adopt a tough guy approach instead of the relationship-building of old, to break the news to their suppliers.
One supplier said he was told in the "most hostile and intimidating" way possible that Asda had done the sums on buying terms and his company actually owed Asda millions of pounds.
Suppliers even had to pay to attend the conference at which the news was broken.
Banana and milk suppliers were first to feel the squeeze of the new regime in April and more followed. And the result of all that strife? Asda did show signs of improvement as the year went on, but the inevitable occurred. Rivals Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons quickly price-matched and suppliers were left to wonder what it was all for. In an exclusive interview with The Grocer in September, Asda boss Andy Bond, however, remained unapologetic. "Lowering prices is part of our DNA. But while we will drive a hard bargain, we will achieve this by treating our suppliers fairly."