Morrisons has announced the launch of a new online supplier portal it claims will boost transparency and long-term relationships with its supplier base.
The retailer said the move was a response to concerns from suppliers and followed other moves to simplify trading relationships in its supply chain.
The free portal would include all commercial agreements stored in one, secure place, visible to both suppliers and Morrisons at the same time, it said.
It will use the portal for all information flow, handovers, delivery, approvals, reminders, filing and retrieval.
The new set-up will also include details such as promotions, cost price changes and agreements to invoice.
Morrisons said suppliers would be able to use the portal to access and view the progress of invoices; check whether invoices have been received; check if any queries need resolving; and whether invoices have been paid.
The move follows pressure from Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon, who in December urged all supermarkets to launch dedicated supplier helplines in 2018 to deal with issues such as delayed payments and disputed invoices.
Tacon called on retailers to follow the likes of Tesco and Asda in setting up dedicated helplines, as some suppliers feared raising matters such as compliance issues or delayed payment direct with buyers could lead to the threat of delisting.
Morrisons has more widely looked at how it deals with its suppliers following a probe by Tacon in 2016, which exposed demands for lump sum payments of up to £2m, though Morrisons escaped without a fine.
Other measures made by Morrisons to make its supplier relations simpler and more transparent since then include reducing the types of supplier income from 37 to three, revamping its supplier agreements and removing many of the charges that suppliers previously paid, such as for customer complaints.
Morrisons claimed it had been particularly successful in improving the number of suppliers paid on time, a figure it says is now at 99%.
“Three years ago, suppliers told us we could be easier to work with and we responded by setting out ambitions to buy and sell simply and establish lasting relationships with them,” said Michael Gleeson, Morrisons food trading director.
“Measures, such as our supplier portal, will make it easier to work with Morrisons and the initial response has been very positive.”
Gleeson added: “We will continue to listen to suppliers’ views and respond wherever possible.”