Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon has asked Tesco to examine its behaviour towards suppliers during the company’s internal review into the £250m overstatement of its profits.
“I have requested that compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice is included in the scope of the internal investigation and I have asked to be notified if Tesco starts to find practices which might breach the Code,” she said today.
“The GCA will take a decision on next steps based on the evidence.”
Tacon was speaking to the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association Show in Birmingham.
During the speech she also gave an update on progress in her actions on forensic auditing following the June announcement that eight out of 10 large retailers covered by the Code had agreed a voluntary commitment to time-limit such audits to two years.
“I have asked all the retailers to inform their suppliers in October about their forensic auditing policies,” she explained.
“This is an example of how I want to achieve swift progress by informal methods on issues faced by many suppliers but let me be clear that I also have the power to carry out investigations and impose sanctions, including fines in the most serious breaches of the Code.”
She said it was vital suppliers brought her hard evidence – such as financial and contractual documentation and notes of conversations – to help her perform her role effectively and she assured them their identities would be protected.
“I don’t want to interfere in your commercial relationships with retailers but if you know of a practice that is not only affecting you but is also likely to affect others, isn’t that a justification to tell me so that I can take action? Give me the tools and I can do the job.
“I rely on suppliers, trade associations and other organisations and individuals with evidence about potential breaches of the Code to bring that evidence to the GCA.
“Without the evidence I am powerless to act, without a strong body of fact-based information I cannot launch an investigation, and without detailed data any investigation I launch will not be able to prove any breach of the Code has taken place.”