A lack of consensus among the UK’s large food retailers is hampering efforts to increase disclosure of supplier incomes, according to a new report from Moody’s.
The rating agency said that the current uneven disclosure of supplier income will prolong the confused situation regarding complex supplier arrangements and will hamper the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) efforts to shine a light on the area.
Those differences are even more marked on the continent, where significant disparities exist between retailers Ahold, Delhaize, Carrefour and Metro Group.
Only Tesco currently provides comprehensive disclosure of the impact of supplier income on the balance sheet of the seven retailers Moody’s studied.
Morrisons was alone in disclosing the full profit impact, though only Carrefour failed to disclose to investors their accounting policy for supplier income.
“It is ironic that the FRC’s call for more clarity in the reporting of these arrangements has probably been a contributory factor [to the differing transparency approaches],” the report states.
Moody’s notes there remains three main areas where agreement is presently lacking.
Firstly, how supplier income should be defined; secondly, the commercial sensitivity of disclosing the profit impact; and finally the importance of the related assets and liabilities in the context of the balance sheet as a whole.
“The impasse in reporting is unlikely to be resolved until agreement is reached on [these three points],” says Trevor Pijper, senior credit officer and vice president
“However, regardless of how supplier income is defined, investors’ main concern is that it might be inappropriately “pulled forward” into the current period to mask a decline in underlying profitability, or to achieve a profit target,” added Pijper.