Supermarket ombudsman won’t help housewares suppliers, says BHETA

A new code of practice and ombudsman designed to protect companies that supply supermarkets leaves housewares suppliers out in the cold.
So says the British Home Enhancement Trade Association, responding to The Competition Commission’s final report into groceries retailing. Its recommendations for a new groceries supply code of practice and an independent ombudsman to oversee and enforce it specifically exclude suppliers of “kitchen hardware” and electrical appliances.

BHETA, whose members supply a wide range of housewares to supermarkets, says the proposals “will do little to assist or protect the non-food manufacturers who supply UK grocery retailers in ever-increasing numbers”.

“As the grocery retailers increase their non-food offer, our members face exactly the same concerns as those food suppliers this report seeks to assist and protect,” says BHETA CEO David French. “But the CC hasn’t widened its brief to include non-food suppliers in its recommendations, which is very short-sighted.

“If the terms of reference for both these recommendations were to be extended to cover all types of suppliers to grocery retailers, then we’d actively support them in line with our policy of encouraging members to follow business best practice and agree mutually-equitable trading terms with retailers.”

The commission’s recommendations expressly exclude kitchen hardware and electrical appliances along with a wide range of other merchandise from DIY products, newspapers and pharmaceuticals to gardening equipment, toys and CDs.

“Given the supermarkets’ growing presence in all these product sectors, to continue these exclusions is clearly not in the supplier’s or consumer’s best interests,” says French, “and will only create a two-tier system which will add unnecessary complexity and cost.”

BHETA says it will continue to lobby the commission to widen its brief to include non-food suppliers within its recommendations.

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