BHETA president David French has welcomed the news that Tesco and Asda are to be investigated for allegedly intimidating suppliers into cutting prices.
The Competition Commission is to study millions of emails and letters relating to the two supermarkets’ dealings with suppliers.
The British Home Enhancement Trade Association, formerly the British Hardware & Housewares Manufacturers’ Association, has fought a series of battles with retailers for imposing additional financial burdens on their suppliers. Homebase, Woolworths, House of Fraser and Matalan have been criticised variously for demanding extra “discounts” or “contributions”, better terms and free stock.
French told housewareslive.net that the Competition Commission investigation was “the governmental machine moving very slowly – but moving. I’m pleased because I do believe that in many respects the supermarket sector has set the scene, or been responsible, for a lot of what we’ve seen going on in regard to demands being made of our members. So I’m hoping that this process goes the whole way.”
BHETA has made many representations to the Office of Fair Trading about what it sees as retailers’ unfair demands. But, French went on: “I think the OFT are finding themselves in a very difficult position because they see themselves as guardians of the consumer’s position, and we’ve always taken the view that the consumer’s interests in the long term aren’t being best served by having the supplier base eroded.”
The OFT referred Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons to the Competition Commission last year.
Tesco and Asda have both defended themselves against the claims of supplier bullying and said they have done nothing wrong.