amazon fulfilment centre

Amazon was found to have demanded large lump sum payments from dozens of suppliers

Groceries Code Adjudicator Mark White has held talks with online giant Amazon after it was found to have demanded large lump sum payments from dozens of suppliers.

The Grocer revealed last month that the online giant had given suppliers involved just 48 hours to agree to sums running into tens of thousands of pounds to improve profitability, or face potential delisting.

Amazon has since said its requests were a “mistake” and that it had contacted all the estimated 30 suppliers involved.

White, who today launched the GCA’s 2024 YouGov survey of suppliers’ views on retailer behaviour, said he had been assured by Amazon that it had reversed all lof its demands. It was a subject he would continue to monitor, he added.

Amazon has been under the spotlight since it came under GSCOP in March 2022, coming bottom of last year’s YouGov survey.

But it says it is making a series of moves to improve relations with suppliers.

Last week The Grocer revealed it had announced a new 30-day guarantee to stop suppliers being hit with controversial automatic deductions over delivery issues.

Also on the Adjudicator’s radar remain the demands by Tesco for suppliers to pay Amazon-style fulfilment fees for the use of its online and Booker wholesale, which was at the centre of the controversy last year. 

Speaking about his talks with Amazon, White said: “I’m very pleased that investigations haven’t been necessary.

“The really important thing for me was that as soon as I brought this matter to them they reversed the email.

“I am assured that no suppliers paid a penny.” 

However, asked if he had drawn a line under the matter, White said: “I never draw a line under anything I’m looking at.

“If you look at the Tesco fulfilment fees that went to a much wider audience than 30 and I still engaged with Tesco on that particular issue.”

White said the supplier survey, which closes on 25 February, remained a key part of his armoury in policing the supermarket sector. The result will be published in June with the GCA to once again commission anonymous follow-up interviews with to explore supplier concerns in more detail.

“My last two surveys showed how inflation and cost price increase negotiations have strained relationships between retailers and suppliers,” he said.

“However, I know that suppliers have faced a wide range of other issues over the last 12 months, including delists and inaccurate forecasting.

“I want to hear from as many suppliers as possible about your perceptions of retailer behaviour and the key issues affecting the sector. Your input will help me to focus my engagement with the retailers to ensure they are treating all suppliers fairly and lawfully.”