A former Asda buying chief has turned from poacher to gamekeeper to offer suppliers training in the Groceries Supply Code of Practice.
Ged Futter, who worked for nearly 15 years with the supermarket giant, the last four as senior buying manager for frozen food, told The Grocer he wanted to help bring “balance” back to the relationship between suppliers and retailers.
Supermarkets were turning their superior negotiation skills into a “billion pound industry”, Futter warned, adding many suppliers were too scared to stand up to retailers because there was still a “climate of fear”.
To help suppliers be more assertive, Futter is offering to train them up through his new business, Innovative Retailing Solutions, which he launched in February.
He is currently working with suppliers whose turnover varies from £25m to more than £1bn.
“I offer advice when the suppliers come up against issues that may be in breach of GSCOP and also look at how they can use GSCOP in a more pragmatic way not just as a ‘big stick’,” he said.
Futter added he wanted to teach suppliers how to avoid being hit with sometimes huge lump sums for activity not associated with promotions, charges from what could be bogus customer complaints, and other invoice issues that could be in breach of GSCOP.
“I do think that all the retailers are making efforts to ensure they work within the code,” Futter said.
“But it’s often about how suppliers could better use their knowledge that could avoid them losing out in negotiations.”
GSCOP Adjudicator Christine Tacon recently warned suppliers that retailers were far better drilled in GSCOP and had been using it to exploit their relationships with their supply chains.