The Association of Convenience Stores has welcomed the publication of the Groceries Code Adjudicator Draft Bill but urged Government to move swiftly in taking the Bill through parliament.
When introduced, the new regulator will be charged with investigating abusive practices and arbitrating disputes between supermarkets and suppliers. The need for a regulator was identified by the Competition Commission in 2008 following its two-year grocery market investigation.
The Bill identifies the following powers of the GCA:
- investigate complaints from suppliers
- arbitrate disputes between suppliers and large retailers
- produce an annual report on compliance
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the creation of an adjudicator to protect the interests of grocery consumers. The implementation of a regulator was recommended by the Commission more than three years ago already. The publication of this Bill today is the start of another long process. We urge Ministers to do all they can to speed up the implementation of a measure that is designed to protect consumer interests.”
“We welcome the fact that the Business Select Committee will be scrutinising the Bill and we will be submitting our views. We are keen to ensure the Adjudicator has maximum flexibility to gather information about harmful practices that breach the grocery supplier code. We are also keen to ensure that the Adjudicator can impose meaningful penalties, we believe this should include fines where necessary.”