Making Business Matter (MBM)
Grocery Guru Episode 7: Who's the Pantomime Villain? with Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith
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Who’s the Pantomime Villain?

Join Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith in the seventh episode of Grocery Guru: Who’s the Pantomime Villain?

Pantomime Villain

You Can Read the Full Pantomime Villain Episode Transcript Below:

Darren A. Smith:

Hi, Andrew, welcome to week six. How are you doing?

Andrew Grant:

Is it week six or week seven? I can’t remember. But yes, I’m good.

Darren A. Smith:

Definitely one of them. This is week six, we think, with the Grocery Guru that is Andrew Grant. Now, he’s looking like he’s just stepped off an Eminem video.

Andrew Grant:

I’m not sure how many people can remember that far back, but yeah, it’s quite cold here. I think we’re moving into the proper weather for the proper season.

Darren A. Smith:

We are. We are. So this week, what are we talking about?

Andrew Grant:

Well, I think, as I said, we’re moving into Christmas season, despite the government possibly doing its best to stop us enjoying ourselves, whether that’s right or wrong. I think it’s pantomime season. I think it’s time to start rolling out the, “He’s over there”, and, “Oh yes, he did.”

Darren A. Smith:

“Oh no, he’s not.”

Andrew Grant:

“Oh no, he’s not.” Have a look at maybe some of the villains, pantomime villains for the season.

Darren A. Smith:

All right. And pantomime season’s coming up. May happen, may not. But I get your point. Who’s our villain that you want to talk about?

Andrew Grant:

Well, I just think because we’re trying to keep these things topical, the British Brands Group, which encompasses some of the biggest UK brands, published a review this week of retailer compliance to GSCOP.

Darren A. Smith:

Oh, okay. Okay. [crosstalk 00:01:24] For those that don’t know is a piece of law governing UK supermarkets.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. And every year legally, each of the 13 designated supermarkets has to write a report to the adjudicator. The government official that runs GSCOP telling her, now him, how they’ve done. British brands have collated all that. And yeah, here we are. Let’s have a guess. So the, the country’s largest retailer is…

Darren A. Smith:

Tesco.

Andrew Grant:

How many complaints of all the many thousands of suppliers they deal with and the billions that they spend with suppliers each year. How many complaints do you think they had last year? Sorry, alleged complaints.

Darren A. Smith:

Okay good. So these are breaches of GSCOP and by the way, you worded the question, I should say thousands, but I’m going to guess it’s not.

Andrew Grant:

Okay. Well, they’re alleged breaches, Darren.

Darren A. Smith:

Alleged breaches. All right, so I’m going to go with 250.

Andrew Grant:

Okay. It was 45-

Andrew Grant:

…which the worst some headlines in the business, press trade press over the week saying, “Tesco are the villain. Tesco, the GSCOP villain.” With 45 alleged breaches amongst I reckon that’s less than 2.5% of their suppliers who have made an alleged breach. My view that’s pretty good.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah. But you and I have talked about this before and I’ve played along for the last couple of minutes, but here’s where I don’t play along. There are about 10,000 suppliers out there and 45 complaints are bugger all. And that is not a measure of how well they’re doing. It’s just not.

Andrew Grant:

Okay. Why don’t we then divide the 45 complaints into how many billions of pounds the supermarket spend with suppliers. And it will come out… You’ll run out of zeros after the point.

Darren A. Smith:

You will be. Here’s a stat for you. So I got this one from LinkedIn in preparation for our week six, [crosstalk 00:03:31] and I should read it to you. “For every complaint, not GSCOP specific, but every complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers.” Now I worked out that last year, last 12 months, there have been 154 breaches, alleged breaches of GSCOP. And if I times that by 26, I arrived at about 4,000. And that is how many complaints I think are really out there. So GSCOP is not doing really well. What’s happening is suppliers are frightened to report.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah, I know. That’s when the adjudicator does their annual supplier review, which they do annually, the number one reason for not raising a breach is fear of reprisals.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah. That’s my challenge. Since GE scope has come in in 2010. So it’s about a decade old, it’s 10 years old. We’ve got to when I say 154 breaches or alleged breaches, but really how many are there? There’s got to be more.

Andrew Grant:

I don’t know. It’s difficult. I obviously I’m sitting on the retailer side of the fence here. I don’t think they are the pantomime villains.

Darren A. Smith:

Oh, yes they are.

Andrew Grant:

Very good. I don’t think they are the villains. You can look at the numbers and [inaudible 00:04:56] and statistics. We can spend all day throwing numbers back at each other either trying to make it look like a big problem or it not be a big problem. When you actually read the adjudicator’s annual reviews, et cetera. She, Christine Tacon who’s now given up the role, always talks about just how compliant the retailers have been. And particularly she did a bit this week about what she thinks she’s achieved in seven years. So that’s sort of leaving memories. And the number one thing she pointed to was the code compliance officers who are for those people who aren’t that au fait with the code. They are independent of the retailer’s commercial divisions that typically their company secretary or company legal. She pointed to them as being the people who have made the code work within the retailers.

Andrew Grant:

And I think what I pointed down, whatever your numbers say, whether it’s 45 complaints. Sorry, 45 alleged complaints for Tesco and there’s 26 times that not reported. I think I’d actually point to the retailers who are not covered by GSCOP. [inaudible 00:06:12] Because I probably get, I don’t know, half a dozen calls a week from clients asking me about problems they’ve got with GSCOP. And how many of those six calls… So let’s say I’ve had in the last six months, a 100 calls, how many of those are related to one of the 13 named retailers?

Darren A. Smith:

No, actually I have no idea. One in two?

Andrew Grant:

Yeah, no, no.

Darren A. Smith:

No?

Andrew Grant:

Less than half a dozen. So five, 6%. The vast majority of the calls I get from our clients that are worried about the behaviour of a customer are not those covered by the 13. I’d probably get into huge trouble if I named them. But the ones I get the most calls about are some of the big high street names that happen to sell groceries alongside their newspapers and books and alongside their perfumes and face creams et cetera. Those who get the complaints are I think… The conclusion I’d come to is that the 13 retailers covered by the code, do follow the code as much as they can. And those complaints, those alleged breaches we see, hey, stuff will happen when you’re dealing with multi-billion pound businesses and tens of thousands of suppliers. The odd thing will slip through. I think the bigger problem is outside. There’s a lot of our clients who are struggling because of COVID. Having big problems with important customers to them who are not covered by the code.

Darren A. Smith:

And I think the other part we shouldn’t forget is whilst the code is governing those 13 named retailers, we also know that suppliers have a duty in order to be able to help guide their relationship with those brands.

Andrew Grant:

Yes.

Darren A. Smith:

As we know that one in two don’t really understand the code and also wanting to I’m using broad numbers, don’t have a written supplier agreement. Which is a problem.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think we’ve said it before when you get to smaller suppliers, the knowledge and most importantly, the amount of training they’ve had in the code drops to less than half of them have had proper training in the code. And yeah how are you going to know what you do if you’ve not had the training?

Darren A. Smith:

So we’re talking this week about our pantomime villain which are the 13 retailers and the breaches that they have, not have.

Andrew Grant:

Oh, no they’re not.

Darren A. Smith:

Oh yes, they are the people who aren’t coming forward or who are pantomime villain, 13 retailers. But you’re saying the complaints are quite low. I’m saying that they’re all hidden and they need to come forth.

Andrew Grant:

I think the real villains are outside the 13.

Darren A. Smith:

Our 10 minutes are up. We ought to cut that bit, but Andrew, thank you very much. We’ll see you for week seven.

Andrew Grant:

Goodbye.

Darren A. Smith:

Bye.


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