Tuesday 28 July 2015

A step beyond GSCOP?

Whilst the issue of supplier-retailer trading relationships has become ‘Agenda: Upper Quartile’, and the Code of Practice, in practice, is now being seriously considered by key stakeholders, it could be that suppliers are not raising their sights and expectations to a place that was always the aim of GSCOP, in spirit rather than by the letter of the Code.

Whilst it is obviously important for all parties to understand the detail and practical application of GSCOP, it is important to keep in mind that focusing on the ‘letter’ of the code in legal terms will at best slow down the evolution of what could, and should, be a basis for improved day-to-day dealings between suppliers and retailers.

Meanwhile, there is little point in criticising retailers’ legal departments for helping buyers to avoid falling foul of the letter of the ‘legislation’, that is what corporate lawyers do….  And besides, retailers need, and can afford to employ the best talent available in finding a way forward, especially in unprecedented times…

In fact, should the GCA team ever find themselves in a position to levy a fine of 1% of a retailer’s turnover, they will find themselves opposite a/the best-in-class legal team, entirely focused on provable ‘letter-of-law’ breaches, with the spirit-of-law aspects playing little, if any, part in the process.

The answer for suppliers has to be a company-wide emphasis on evolving a sustainable offer that represents a demonstrable edge over available alternatives, an advantage that is not easily replicated by the competition. In practice, this could mean a supplier has to construct their own portfolio re-set, stripping out any brand/SKU that fails to reach this standard, and live with the consequences.., before Tesco does it on their behalf.

This should be followed by re-negotiation of your existing supplier-retailer relationship to a point beyond GSCOP, a fair-play arrangement where each party’s reward is proportional to relative risk, and the partners collaborate because they want to be in business together, in the full spirit of a mutually productive working relationship…

Over-idealistic, na├»ve even? 
Would you prefer having to refer to a lawyer’s ‘letter’ for every stroke, and a life where you best energies are wasted on second-guessing your ‘opponents’ on the other side of the buyer’s desk?
There is a better way...

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