There was some news today to cheer up poor Roger Burnley and Mike Coupe as they cradled their ice packs following yesterday’s savaging at the House of Commons.
The Grocer can reveal today the CMA will next month announce its long-awaited list of new retailers to be added to the remit of Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon.
As we have previously predicted, this will crucially mean Amazon will for the first time come under the jurisdiction of Tacon, alongside that other rising online giant Ocado, as well as one of those pesky bricks and mortar newcomers Coupe and Burnley were complaining about, B&M stores.
Boots will also find itself policed by the Adjudicator, though the CMA has confirmed it will take six months before the new list officially kicks in, to give the newcomers time to become Code-compliant.
Anyone familiar with the history of the Adjudicator will find it highly ironic to see the likes of Asda and Sainsbury’s calling for an expansion of her powers.
Yesterday Burnley and Coupe even signed up to the idea of Tacon policing primary producers. This is a ship that has surely sailed and an idea organisations such as the BRC had strongly opposed when it was considered under the previous review of her role by BEIS.
Of course, it could be argued they would say anything in return for the CMA giving the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger the go-ahead.
But there is no doubt that there cannot possibly be a level playing field between traditional supermarkets and indeed the discounters, when online players such as Amazon are not governed by the same rules when it comes to trading.
This does not mean Tacon will be able to do anything, even if she wanted to, to stop Amazon and Ocado parking their tanks on the supermarkets’ lawns, especially when it comes to negotiations on price.
But it should provide some protection for suppliers who find themselves in severe danger of being squeezed from all directions, as retailers position themselves for today’s brutal new retail landscape.