If you work in the world of supermarkets, suppliers, groceries, or fmcg, in the UK, you’ll be aware of something called ‘GSCOP’ or heard of ‘GSCOP’ rules, or ‘GSCOP regulations’. This stands for ‘Groceries Supply Code of Practice’. The GSCOP Code of Practice was implemented by the UK Government to encourage major UK supermarkets to treat suppliers fairly. Like a guidance or set of rules.

GSCOP book

Buy the GSCOP Book – Click Option 1, 2, or 3

For £9.95 you can buy the 74 page book on either:

  1. Digital book from Amazon.co.uk (Read the 4.5/5 reviews)
  2. Paperback book from Lulu.com
  3. Preview on Google Books

‘Did you know?’ Facts

  • By law, Supermarket buyers must be trained.
  • The Code was written to help suppliers in their relationships with the major UK supermarkets.
  • 76% of suppliers do not understand the Code (Source: GCA Annual Survey 2015).
  • A Groceries Code adjudicator was appointed with the power to fine a supermarket up to 1% of sales.
  • Iceland have the worst compliance code record.

Christine Tacon, the Groceries Code Adjudicator, Tells Us Why Suppliers Need to be Trained

Testimonials to Read the Book

“Whilst I already have a good understanding of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, this book re-affirmed what I knew, but more importantly brought to the forefront of my mind some of the peripheral parts of the code I’d over looked. It is easy to understand and breaks the topic down into manageable work areas. Moreover, the book provided some of the more junior members of the team, who were less conversant with this subject, a good introduction on how the code can help them in practice.”, by Chris White, Account Director at Karro Food Group.

“A comprehensive treatment of the issue and a must-read book for account managers handling the major supermarket multiples. Written by someone who has actually worked in the industry, Darren’s book gives some practical insights for suppliers on the Code and how it needs to form part of the decision-making process when dealing with the supermarkets.”, by Mark Craft, Editor at EMR-NAMNEWS.

“I believe it is essential that every commercial manager has an awareness and understanding of Groceries Supply Code of Practice. This is the playing field by which our retail customers now operate, you need to understand the rules to be able to compete and grow. Ignorance is no excuse, the market has moved on.”, by Alan Chapman, Acting Managing Director, Walkers Sausage Co.

Book vs Training Course

There is Groceries Supply Code of Practice training available. At MBM we prefer to save you £500 and a day of training by offering you a book. A strange statement coming from a training provider. It is because we believe in the importance of this legislation and that you can achieve your goals by reading a book, which you can reference back to, rather than a training course, where you are learning a skill. Our recommendation is to buy the book and then combine that knowledge with influencing skills and/or negotiation skills to be most effective. To learn a skill please see our range of products.

Take Our Quiz to See How Well You Know the Code!

Test your Knowledge and Start the Quiz Here.

Join the Groceries Supply Code of Practice Aware Association

The GSCOP Aware Association has been formed with one mission – To be the mark for Suppliers to demonstrate that they are Aware. Joining is based on passing an online assessment that we envisage two-thirds will fail.

Book a Masterclass with the Book Author

Raise awareness for you and 11 others by discussing this topic with the Author at a GSCOP Masterclass. Each attendee gets a free copy of the book.

tin-masterclass-GSCOP

Seeking Legal Advice

When dealing with legal documents, a potentially complex legal process, and high stakes, we advise that you seek legal counsel. Our partners at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (Gowling WLG from mid-January 2016) can help. Contact David Lowe – Their expert, from a legal perspective, who is very experienced in advising suppliers on the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. David is offering a free 20 minute telephone/email consultation when you mention this book.

Seeking Trained People

Supply Chain Online is the UK’s leading Supply Chain, Procurement and Logistics job board. Now in its 10th year, Supply Chain Online provides targeted recruitment advertising to the UK’s leading employers.

You Tube

Take a look at our You Tube channel where you will stacks of useful tutorials like the one below;

 

Read excerpts from the GSCOP book below;

Chapter 2.

Just Tell Me What I Need to Know

Collaborating with some friends in the UK Grocery Industry on writing this book, they wanted a chapter on the ‘good bits’. The challenge with the Order and the Code is that the devil is in the detail. This chapter is for those people that just want to know the ‘good bits’ because as I have been told many times by Sales Directors and Account Managers, ‘We have the attention span of a gnat’. The risk is that the devil is in the detail and these are the rules of the game you play. It’s ok not knowing the detail of the offside rule, unless you are a footballer! I urge you to read this chapter and then other chapters to understand the detail.

The ‘Good Bits’ are that major UK Supermarkets now need to adhere to these rules:
• Ensure the terms of supply are recorded in writing.
• Provide the Supplier with a notice setting out its GSCOP obligations, including the identity of the senior buyer.
• Deal fairly and lawfully, applying good faith, without duress and recognising the Supplier’s need for certainty.
• Not making supply arrangements retrospective, unless in accordance with specific detailed arrangements in the Supply Agreement.
• Give reasonable notice to vary Supply Agreements or to make significant changes to supply chain procedures.
• No delay in making payment.
• Not require payment to marketing costs, unless specifically stated in the Supply Agreement.
• Not require payment for shrinkage.
• Not require payment for wastage, unless as stated in the Supply Agreement.
• Not require payment of a listing fee, except in relation to a promotion or for new products.
• Compensate the Supplier for the designated Supermarket’s forecasting errors, except as expressly stated in the Supply Agreement, or where the  supermarket acted with due care and good faith.
• Not insist the Supplier obtains goods, services or property from a third party unless cheaper than the Supplier’s source.
• Not require payment for better positioning of goods unless in relation to promotions.
• Not require the Supplier to predominantly fund a promotion. Reasonable notice must be given to the Supplier of a proposed promotion to which the Supplier will contribute. The Supermarket must take due care not to over-order a promotion.
• Not require payment for resolving consumer complaints unless due to Supplier’s breach and certain other controls.
• Only de-list the Supplier with reasonable notice and for genuine
commercial reasons.
• All of this is supported by obligations on the designated Supermarket to train staff, appoint an in-house compliance officer, and to issue an annual report (a summary of which needs to be included in the designated Supermarket’s annual company report).

Action
For many of the statements above exceptions apply, as with any piece of legal writing. It is essential that you understand the exceptions. Please go to the contents and choose the next chapter to read. Do you know which Supermarkets are covered by the Code? Do you know if your products are included within the Code? Do you know which Supermarkets are most compliant?

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Chapter 11.

How do I use The Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP)?

You have read some of the history, read some of the excerpts from the Order and the Code and are thinking, ‘How do I use this?’. This
question comes from the pragmatist learning style (Link) and is very valid. As professionals in the UK Grocery Industry too, we know that
you want a practical guide. Here it is!

Supply Agreements
You should have a Supply Agreement in writing and a copy of the Supermarket’s terms and conditions because then you know what is agreed and is not agreed. A Supermarket can no longer ask you for payments for what has happened retrospectively, e.g. funding a promotion that has already started.

Action: Respectfully request, or propose, a Supply Agreement. 56% of suppliers have a written Supply Agreement and it is a legal requirement for the Supermarket to have this with you. You will struggle to work with the Code if you do not have a written Supply Agreement.

Supply Chain
The Supermarket can no longer significantly change any part of the supply chain that affects you without giving you reasonable notice, e.g. asking for an additional delivery day in the week or delivering twice a day to start next week.

Action: Ensure that you and your colleagues in Supply Chain are aware so that you can discuss challenges internally around GSCOP
before you reply to the Supermarket.

Payment terms
The Supermarket must pay the invoices according to the written Supply Agreement. If you have agreed 90-day payment terms then
the Supermarket must adhere to this to avoid breaching the Code.

Action: Understand whether you are paid on time and discuss internally if this is an issue that you wish to raise with your Supermarket.

Marketing costs
You cannot be asked for payments towards buyer visits, artwork packaging/design, consumer/market research, store openings/
refurbishments, or hospitality, unless these costs are written into the Supply Agreement.

Action: Find out whether any member of your team is agreeing to these payments and then discuss internally whether you wish to raise this issue with the Supermarket.

Shrinkage and Wastage
The Supermarket shall not require the Supplier to make payments for shrinkage or wastage, unless it is caused by Supplier negligence, or set out in the Supply Agreement.

Action: Find out whether any member of your team is agreeing to these payments and then discuss internally whether you wish to raise this issue with the Supermarket.

Listings and Positionings
You cannot be asked to pay for listings, or a positioning on a shelf, or to gain more shelf space, unless it is in relation to a promotion.
Another exception applies regarding a listing over time and percentage distribution.

Action: Find out whether any member of your team is agreeing to these payments and then discuss internally whether you wish to raise
this issue with the Supermarket.

Compensation for Forecasting Errors
The Supermarket must fully compensate the Supplier for any costs incurred through forecasting errors. Exceptions apply.

Action: Discuss the last 12 months internally and the potential value of the compensation and then agree whether to raise the
issue with your Supermarket. In March 2016 the GCA published a best practice statement on Forecasting, which is worth reading.
The 1.5 page document largely states that the GCA believes that Supermarkets are complying with the Code and that Supermarkets
should improve their transparency of communications with Suppliers about forecasting.

Third Party Goods and Services
You do not need to obtain goods or services from a company appointed by a Supermarket where the Supermarket receives a payment.
Exceptions apply.

Action: Find out whether any member of your team is agreeing to working with an appointed provider that you know receives
payments and then discuss internally whether you wish to raise this issue with the Supermarket.

Promotions
You should not be the predominant funder of a promotion.

Action: Review the last 12 months internally and the potential value of moving from ‘predominant’ to ‘not predominant’ and then agree
whether to raise the issue with your Supermarket.

Customer Complaints
The Supermarket cannot ask for payment for complaints made by shoppers in store. The Supermarket can ask for payment for complaints
that are not resolved in-store, but the watchword is that the payment must be ‘reasonable’. Exceptions apply.

Action: Discuss the last 12 months internally and the potential value of the compensation and then agree whether to raise the issue with
your Supermarket.

De-listing a Supplier
You can only be delisted for genuine commercial reasons and reasonable notice must be provided with the reasons for the de-list in writing.

Action: If this is likely for you understand the Code comprehensively for this section and read these guidance notes from the GCA (Link).

Action
The Code came into play almost 15 years ago, (not the GSCOP Code, but the first code of its type) has been strengthened to support Suppliers and an Adjudicator appointed. Are you aware of exactly what you can and cannot be asked for by major Supermarkets? To use the Code effectively, the knowledge of the Code needs to be successfully combined with powerful Negotiation Skills and Influencing Skills.

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Chapter 18.

What was the Tesco investigation by the GCA about?

In February 2015 the Groceries Code Adjudicator, Christine Tacon, launched an investigation into Tesco (Link). The reason was because
the GCA had formed reasonable suspicion that the Supermarket had breached GSCOP. The decision was made having considered
information relating to the profit statement announced by Tesco in September 2014.
The investigation was likely to take 9 months and looked at the conduct of Tesco from the 25th June 2013 to the 5th February 2015,
concluding in November 2015 and focused on:
• Delay in payments.
• Payments for better positioning of products on shelf.
• The principle of fair dealing.
The investigation was only with Tesco, though, if evidence came to light about similar practices from other Supermarkets, the scope
of the investigation could be widened. Christine said, “This is the first investigation I have launched and it is a significant step for
the GCA. I have taken this decision after careful consideration of all the information submitted to me so far. I have applied the
GCA published prioritisation principles to each of the practices under consideration and have evidence that they were not isolated
incidents, each involving a number of Suppliers and significant sums of money.”
Action
Please stay abreast of the development on the Tesco investigation. If you connect with us on social media we’ll keep you informed.

The Tesco investigation concluded in January 2016 with a 60 page report. At the Annual GCA Conference Christine had made these 5
recommendations to Tesco:
• Money owed to suppliers must be paid in accordance with the terms agreed Tesco must not make unilateral deductions – 30 days for suppliers to challenge proposed deduction.
• Data input errors identified by suppliers must be resolved promptly – within 7 days.
• Tesco must provide transparency and clarity in its dealings with suppliers.
• Tesco finance teams and buyers must be trained in the investigation findings.