Wednesday 4 March 2015

120 days, just a Lidl bit of extra credit?

According to The Sunday Times, Lidl UK are allegedly asking some suppliers to accept 120 days payment terms.

Apart from the usual cost/risk balancing act required in unprecedented times, suppliers have to ask themselves why the extending-credit option is now featuring so prominently in supplier-retailer relationships.

Given that a retailer's working capital is made up of bank overdraft and creditors (i.e. suppliers, mainly), minus stock, debtors (i.e. shoppers, mainly) and cash, when profits are under pressure, few squeeze-options remain.

With price-cuts obligatory, bank overdrafts expensive, stock rotating 20 times/annum, the retailer's only opportunity to supplement the bottom line is via extended trade credit - apart from selling off underutilised stores (!)

Obviously, some suppliers will try to pass the cost of additional credit back up the pipeline by taking longer to pay ingredients and services suppliers. But, given the difference in added value within supplier and retailer business models - ingredients cost a supplier say 10% of their trade prices, whilst retailers pay 75% of their Net retail sales for products - a supplier would have to take 10 times longer to pay, in order to neutralise the cost of trade credit given to retailers. So a supplier is only reducing some of the pain by extending their supplier payment periods to 120 days.

However, the real issue is the need for fair payment - based on order cycle time i.e. the gap between delivery and payment by shopper - rather than the current justifications such 'on time payment' in compliance with current legislation, and trading 'norms'.

With some major suppliers moving to 120 day payment of their suppliers (see Ad Age, KamBlog) there is a very real danger that a new 'norm' of 120 days (4 months!) is being established by suppliers(!)...and retailers would be unwise not to move to this new credit period 'norm'.

In fact, it could be said that Lidl UK are simply first out of the frame, again...

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