A lack of transparency in retailer reporting is making it difficult to assess if the Groceries Code is having any effect, according to the British Brand Group.

The group, which represents well-known brands, has called on the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to increase the level of detail required from retailers.

Retailers are required to report to the OFT on alleged and actual breaches of the code, as well as disputes and their outcomes.

However, most retailers did not quantify these or give any detail on dispute outcome other than whether it had been resolved or not.

Reports published last year by the top 10 biggest supermarkets, covering the 2012-13 period, gave a woefully small level of detail about code compliance, yet did not fall short of what retailers were required to do, said John Noble, director of the British Brand Group. A lack of clarity in the Groceries Code Order (GSCOP), which determines how retailers should report, was to blame he said.

“The retailer reports are not as transparent as we would have liked,” said Mr Noble. “I’m not surprised they are giving as little detail as possible, but it does make it difficult to judge to what extent the existing code is having an effect.

“The GSCOP Order is vague on what must be included in these summaries. We have suggested to the OFT that it would be helpful to have consistency between retailer reports and that information should be quantified where possible, including quantifying alleged and actual breaches, and number of disputes each year.”

Grocery code courses

The British Brand Group is running courses for those who supply supermarkets, on what their rights are under the Groceries Code. Visit the British Brand Group website or telephone Mr Noble 01730 821 212.

Alleged breaches

Actual breaches

Disputes

Dispute outcome

Training

Aldi

0

0

0

Yes

Asda

“Small number”

ND

0

Yes

Co-op

“A modest number”

2

0

Yes

Iceland

ND

0

0

Yes

Lidl

ND

ND

0

Yes

M&S

2

ND

1

Breach denied*

Yes

Morrisons

Unspecified number

ND

10**

8 withdrawn or resolved
2 unresolved

Yes

Sainsbury’s

“Small number”

ND

1

Resolved

Yes

Tesco

Unspecified number

ND

1

Resolved

Yes

Waitrose

ND

ND

0

Yes

ND = Not disclosed

* Supplier has not initiated arbitration proceedings

** Since publishing the report, Morrisons has clarified that this number relates to Alleged breaches and not Disputes. There were noDisputes and two incidents were from the previous year