Here’s an ironic twist of fate! The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), an independent watchdog established to regulate how large retailers treat their suppliers, has been in a spot of bother for breaching its own guidelines. News broke recently that the GCA is failing to pay its suppliers in the time that it aims to. As a B2B PR agency with clients who work closely with the retail sector we’re well aware of what the GCA stands for, so we can appreciate how unusual it is to see the tables turn on the watchdog.
Since its inception in 2013, the GCA has put the UK’s supermarkets and their supplier relations under close scrutiny and it now has the power to fine retailers for misconduct. Currently, the watchdog is investigating Tesco after suspicions that it breached regulations on supplier contracts. Considering what the GCA aims to achieve, you can only imagine the field day that the media had when it uncovered that the watchdog was practising the very thing it prevents.
But dig a little deeper into the story. You’ll discover that the Competition and Markets Authority runs a new financial system for the GCA, which covers all payment activity. Due to the system being in its infancy, it’s causing supplier payment delays for the GCA, so it’s not actually the adjudicator who is at fault. Even so, journalists can smell a juicy story from a mile off and in this instance put two and two together to dig some dirt up on the GCA.
The need to practice what you preach couldn’t be any more highlighted by this discovery, even if someone else is ultimately to blame. The GCA now faces possible backlash and accusations of double standards from the public and the retailers it regulates. Particularly with its Tesco investigation still ongoing, the adjudicator may now have a job on its hands to continue to be taken seriously as an advocate of good supplier treatment.
Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.