Showing posts with label deductions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deductions. Show all posts

Tuesday 26 January 2016

GCA-Tesco Investigation, What Now?

The GCA Investigation report establishes a basis for suppliers wishing to bench-mark and re-set their relationships with Tesco and other retailers.

Nothing beats a detailed reading of the report in order to identify key aspects to a supplier’s actual trading relationship with Tesco, but application has to be top-of-mind….

In practice, suppliers need to revisit all aspects of their trading relationship and establish working limits, i.e. walkaway points, in each case.

Essentially, the report provide two key areas for immediate application, Credit periods and Deductions.

Credit Periods
Tesco currently pays suppliers in 44 days on average, and the GCA report (7.3) refers to a Competition Commission Report published in 2000 that noted ....retailers delaying payments to suppliers beyond contractual payment periods or by more than 30 days from the date of invoices may adversely affect the competitiveness of some suppliers. 

In practice, for daily delivered SKUs, it could be said that seven days is even more appropriate, but every little helps…

However, strictly speaking, GSCOP specifies that breaches occur when a retailer deviates from a negotiated agreement on terms i.e. the onus is on suppliers to reach agreement on a 30-day credit period if they wish reduce their exposure and operate on that basis.

The report also focuses on unilateral deductions and gives sufficient examples for suppliers to use as a basis for internal adjustment of their systems. Essentially, this means assessing their supplier-retailer relationships re
- Unilateral deductions made in relation to historic claims (Post-audit recovery)
- Unilateral deductions for short deliveries and service level charges
- Unilateral deductions made for other items or unknown items

Given that it can be easier to document each aspect of the trading relationship in advance of execution, if only to avoid having to recover two year old documents under the pressure of a two week buyer deadline, suppliers need to establish ways of minimising post-audit claims, agree and document delivery and service level conditions and anticipate possible deductions for any other breaches.

The pending SFO report - due this week - will add numbers to the above, as well as fleshing out Trade investment definitions and measures.

On balance, the GCA and SFO reports can provide a basis for suppliers to revert to basics with Tesco, treating the company as a new major customer. This means re-assessing Tesco’s relative competitive appeal vs other customers from a consumer-shopper point of view (think media fall-out from both reports), the retailer’s development life-cycle in a radically changed market, and the characteristics that qualify them as an Invest, Maintain or Divest customer, all tailored to your brand consumer...

Finally, for your category, an objective re-assessment of your relative competitive appeal vs Tesco’s new appetites arising from both GCA and SFO investigations will help you determine the strength of your negotiation position in re-setting and optimising the opportunity window partially opened this morning by the GCA Report... 

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Deductions - the last retail frontier?

                                                                                                                pic: GCA Survey by YouGov

Given that margins, cost & selling prices, credit periods and trade investment have hopefully been pushed to their limits, Deductions remain as the final route to retail profitability enhancement.

With over 70% of deductions representing pricing and promotion issues and resulting deductions caused by misunderstanding, misinterpretation and time lags in communicating trade deals, it is vital that suppliers avoid the inevitability of settlements in favour of the customer by reducing process "disconnects," which cause preventable deductions i.e. supplier doing things one way, and customer another…

Deductions have to remain a supplier-driven issue.

Whilst future legislation may focus on unauthorised deductions, suppliers that take collaborative steps with the retailer to reduce preventable deductions can have a significant impact on their bottom line:
  • Suppose a supplier has £3m in preventable deductions and a 5% net margin
  • Preventing £1m in deductions because of internal changes and improved processing of retail requirements will cause any saving to flow to the bottom line
  • A 5% margin means £1m saving is equivalent to £20m in incremental sales
Therefore, a supplier can achieve same financial effect of £20m in new sales without producing or shipping a single unit...

In other words, by identifying and agreeing to compatible policies and processes, supplier and customer can avoid all this non-productive paperwork, and produce increased profits for both.

Alternatively, why not wait until deductions reach US levels of 7% of your sales before elevating deductions-management to the No.1 agenda position it deserves...?

NB. Well worth checking through the full GCA survey for additional GSCOP insight

Monday 22 April 2013

What if consumers demanded supplier trading-terms from retailers?

An article on retailers' treatment of suppliers in today's Independent* introduces an idea that may hold the key to achieving fair-share treatment in supplier-retailer relationships.

Suppose consumers began to modify their shopping behaviour as follows:
  • Telling the shop staff they are happy with the price, but need a 5% settlement discount to pay at point-of-purchase...
  • Demanding a retro-rebate on goods purchased from the store six months previously...
  • Requesting an advertising allowance to carry the store's shopping bag home...
  • Applying a deductions' allowance for unbudgeted delays at the checkout, low on-shelf availability, 'cold' bread at the bakery, unhelpful staff...
  • Expecting a contract allowance for buying a jar of own-label coffee every week for a year...
  • Offering to buy a product's all five variants in exchange for a full range bonus..
  • Seeking a quarterly/yearly bonus for shopping regularly...
  • Requesting a listing-allowance to add the store's own label product to their shopping list...
  • Demanding a de-listing allowance to cover the inconvenience of removing same when tastes change...
  • Making a promo-allowance a condition of 'telling-a-friend'....
  • Requiring a 'customer representative allowance' to encourage family members to tell their friends..
  • Demanding a merchandising allowance for displaying product on the rear window-ledge of the car...
  • Offering to fill the car-boot and all available seats in exchange for a full-load bonus...
  • Requesting a collection-allowance to cover the cost of selecting goods from shelves and transporting to the checkout...
  • Demanding a compensation allowance because the new jumbo-pack does not fit home-storage shelving...
[NAMs are invited to add personal experiences to the above 'shopping list'.....]

Unlikely that consumers would take a pro-active stance against business practices they deem unfair?  So thought a well-known high street coffee chain when their customers discovered their off-shore arrangements to minimise UK corporation tax payments...

Friday 5 October 2012

Premier Foods - the split-up options

Following Premier Foods appointment of a new COO with a brief to help see the grocery and bread businesses managed as two distinct divisions in recognition of the different “opportunities and challenges” facing each business, it might be useful for NAMs to explore the options and possible actions available to the company. This could add insight on how the company will manage the trade and also help you anticipate the impact on competing brands.

Essentially, the company needs to increase its perceived value in the market and thus raise its share price. This will not only give it more autonomy but will also make it easier to sell all or part of the operation at the appropriate time..

The emphasis will therefore be on improving its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), a driver of the share price.

Step 1
The first step has to be a split of bread and groceries, given that they are totally different business models.
  • Bread is a fast moving, high rotation (daily), high wastage (10+%), short shelf life (days/weeks) and narrow margin business, especially supply-side, whereas
  • Grocery is slower moving, low rotation (2 monthly), lower wastage (2+%), long shelf life (1-2 years), more generous margins supplier and retailer
Bread: Premier need to strip out cost, sell-off non-core parts, simplify and explore possibilities of sharing the distribution burden

Grocery: Here they need to continue emphasis on a limited number of power-brands and sell off anything non-core

Step 2
The company will then be in a position to apply the ROCE principles to what remains on the two businesses.
ROCE = Return on Sales  x Sales/Capital Employed  i.e. improve the margin and speed up the rotation of capital (factories + stocks, debtors and cash)

Companies are either in a narrow margin, fast rotation business, or they are in a higher margin, slower rotation business. This is why splitting the bread and grocery businesses is a long overdue no-brainer….

Step 3
First they need to focus on improving Net Margin by
  • Increasing their selling prices and sales (more advertising on fewer power-brands, up-skilling the negotiators)
  • Reducing the levels of discount and promotional expenditure ( did I suggest it was going to be easy?)
  • Reducing the levels of sales and distribution costs (hence hiving off the bread business, and need for special vigilance on trade funding and compliance)
  • Driving volume, especially bread but also grocery power-brands ( move to more responsive social media )
  • Changing the product mix to focus more on higher margin items, (consumers permitting…)
  • Minimise ‘specials’ in terms of tailor-made deals/trade arrangements of any kind, (they just cost more…)
Step 4
Then comes increasing the Rotation of their Capital by
  • Driving the volume of sales as high as possible, using existing or lower levels of Fixed Assets (factories, plant), + Current Assets (stocks, debtors and cash)
  • Getting paid faster via settlement discounts, ‘delisting’ any financially unstable customers
  • Improving sales forecasts i.e. if they forecast 100% and achieve 95%, then 5% of sales become ‘passengers’ with their costs shifting onto the 95% that are sold, thereby hitting the bottom line
  • Generally, improving their ability to convert business cost into revenue…
These moves will drive the overall ROCE, increase the share price, and make each or both of the companies easier to sell, if necessary.

If all of this seems a bit theoretical, why not watch this space over the next six months? You will then be looking at historical moves, whereas some of the above points may help you anticipate and take appropriate action NOW, when it really matters…

Thursday 16 August 2012

Tesco catchup in the UK - a need for context?

Yesterday’s news of Tesco’s improved 3.4% sales growth is encouraging but needs to be kept in context:
- UK refocus: The company has completely refocused on the UK market, and has been spending appropriately (£1bn) since January
- Inflation: With food inflation running at 3.2%, Tesco is only slightly ahead
- Market growth: With the overall food market growing at 3.9%, Tesco is slightly behind
- Competition: Rivals are growing faster (Asda +6.2%, JS +4.6%)
- Fundamental ratios:
            -  where Tesco are:     ROCE12.3%, Net Margin5.9%, Stockturn 17.9 times, Gearing 55.8%
- Fundamental ratios:
            -  where Tesco need to be: ROCE 15%, Net Margin 5.0%, Stockturn 25 times, Gearing 30%
- Outside help: At 3.4% growth rate, a tightly-run Tesco will need considerable supplier support to improve these ratios, and hold UK market share
-      ..especially if they decide to take the nuclear pricing option 

Bearing in mind that ‘It ain't over till the fat lady sings…’, Tesco cannot afford to optimise overseas opportunities until this UK issue is resolved

In other words, Tesco needs to deliver on the fundamental key ratios and hold 31% market share, with growth matching that of the market, before being able to ‘park’ the UK….

As a supplier, it is now time to decide the extent to which you are prepared to offer a little help…

Thursday 2 August 2012

Tesco's credit rating – what it means for you?

Yesterday’s warning by Standard & Poor that ongoing pressure from intensifying competition, weak consumer spending and lower profits could trigger a downgrade to its risk profile and credit rating should not be seen as another nail in the Tesco coffin.

Tesco's previous ratings
In fact, regular readers will know that Tesco have been here before (Moody’s in April 2012, and May 2009). It also helps to bear in mind that the credit rating represents the credit rating agency's evaluation of qualitative and quantitative information for a company or government; including non-public information obtained by the credit rating agencies analysts. Yesterday’s announcement referred to a long term (i.e. after a year) rating, making it more expensive to borrow, but no issues in the short term.

Why the rating matters to you
However, the mention of  ‘lower profits’ as a cause, means that Tesco is effectively prevented from drawing heavily on current profitability to fund its £1bn revitalising initiative, or indeed any ‘nuclear pricing’ options (see KamBlog).

What Tesco needs to do
Apart from a need to make "targeted" disposals, cutting back capital expenditure and/or shareholder pay-outs as possible options, the ratings threat means that Tesco will be forced to place more emphasis on internal savings….
As you know, for a retailer these can include a combination of cost-price reductions, optimising of credit terms/settlement discount trade-offs, increased trade funding, strict application of deductions and improved service levels…

This means it is perhaps time to re-evaluate your position on each of these elements of your Tesco trading relationship, as a basis for determining your fair share of any help Tesco may require in funding its strategy.

Deriving your bespoke rating of the customer:
Finally, a ratings agency score can be a fairly blunt instrument from a NAM’s point of view. Better for you to derive a bespoke rating via a combination of analysis of the customer’s ROCE, Net Margin, Stockturn and Gearing, overlaid against your terms, trade-funding and service level, in order to establish and demonstrate your fair share of any remedial action…

Not doing so can represent more risk than you need, in the current climate.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

If a customer delays payment... Time for the six honest serving men?

In the current climate, it is probably more a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’, but for the moment let us stick with the main question.
Either way, payment delays cost you money and increase your risk-exposure.
Although credit control is someone else’s job, you are the one with total responsibility without authority.
And besides, would you really want a finance colleague trying to get incremental sales from a customer, in order to recover lost profit?
The key issue is ‘why’ the delay?
Essentially, the customer is either in trouble, short of working capital or someone else is shouting louder (a rival supplier offering more Settlement Discount?).
‘Who’ is driving them?
If the ‘who’ happens to be the bank, a quick check of their recent annual report (remember ‘what’ you downloaded from Companies House within minutes of publication four months ago but is still on your ‘must-read' list?) in the Balance Sheet ‘where’ in the outside borrowing section you will find creditors i.e those excluding the guys ‘who’ give them credit free of charge, trade creditors, like you…
This will help you calculate their gearing, and if significantly greater than 30% of Shareholders Funds, it is time to reach for the button…
While checking the Annual Report, the P&L will also reveal the Net Margin for two years, and if less than 2% and heading South, any upward correction is going to be at your expense…
‘How’ it happens?
This will come via ‘deductions’, possibly a delay in payment because of faults/shortages in delivery, with each invoice presenting a new opportunity…
‘How’ you deal with rolling invoice queries can be an opportunity for you to shine in in-house financial circles.
‘What’ to do about it?
How about dividing your annual sales to the customer by twelve, and negotiate with their buyer/finance department that they pay a fixed ‘twelft’ each month by standing-order for eleven months, leaving the final month’s invoice for all the queries?
The end-game..
If the customer is simply reflecting a supplier’s bad invoicing discipline, then the above approach combined with more accuracy on your part, will probably work.
However, if the buyer is simply using excuses, any excuses, to delay payment, this will tell you ‘when’ it is time to give the six honest serving men a rest and ring the lawyers…

P.S. According to Kipling, the 'men' rest from nine-to-five, and never skip meals...  Perhaps 24/7 NAMs/ KAMs need other tools for office-hours?

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Deductions, an Opportunity for All?

Yesterday’s NamNews report of Tesco and Waitrose allegedly charging suppliers for missed or late deliveries raises a number of issues, especially the ‘ownership’ of risk in business.
Retailers achieve average stockturns of 20-25 time a year by integrating supplier-retailer logistics systems, utilising smaller, more frequent deliveries to produce predictable on-shelf availability performances at minimal instore stock-levels. Partnership at this level is dependent upon contractual agreements (really think GSCOP had gone away?) between the parties that have built-in KPIs and penalties for non-compliance. This allows deduction-parameters and penalties to be negotiated upfront thus preventing ‘surprises’ later.
It can also facilitate a fair-share apportionment of risk in the relationship.
Why bother? 
Given that deductions can represent 7-10% of a supplier’s sales, and as net margins continue to fall, then any improvement in deductions management will not only have a significant impact upon cashflow and profitability, but will also have a major impact upon the equivalent incremental sales-profit relationship.
The numbers count
As always, adding the numbers will help to communicate the issues, internally and externally. 
For instance, for a supplier making 6% net profit before tax, on a sales turnover of £50m, reducing deductions by £1m will impact the bottom line with the equivalent of an incremental sales increase of over £16m…a 32% uplift in sales!
Why deductions occur
Essentially, the management of deductions is complicated by the lack of direct ownership, in that departments such as sales, marketing, logistics, category management and finance all have an influence in terms of cause and effect upon the level of deductions made by customers. Despite the fact that many deductions are preventable, deduction resolution is still regarded as a low status, ‘negative’ activity and in a time of cut-backs, tends to be under-resourced in terms of people, systems-support and relevant information.
Reducing preventable deductions
Leaving aside unauthorised and authorised deductions, suppliers have most to gain by focusing upon reducing preventable deductions, and given that these are mainly caused by the supplier’s ability to adhere to the retailer’s compliance process, the solution lies in the supplier’s willingness and ability to tailor their systems ‘front-end’ to the customer’s requirements, a given with invest-level trade partners committed to joint value creation. Also, given their overall responsibility for the entire multilevel-multifunctional supplier-customer relationship, it is obvious that the NAMs should be regarded as a key driver in fusing the often disparate parts of the interface.
Removing incompatibilities and 'disconnects' 
Essentially, this means leading the search for incompatibilities that cause ‘disconnects’ between the two companies’ systems, selling the solutions in terms of compliance KPIs internally and externally, and incorporating these within overall trade strategies and annual negotiated settlements between the parties.
A key payoff resulting from faster deduction resolution for the NAM will be the ability to set promotion strategies based upon real-time performance feedback. As a result, all departments will benefit from better integration within realistic trade strategies that use supply-side and demand-side joint KPIs to move the business forward with greater degrees of transparency and defensibility. 
Board-level involvement
At a higher level, there is a need for board members of supplier and retailer organisations to drive compliance standards across the trade and facilitate the communication and acknowledgement of customer compliance requirements within their companies.
Finally, given that most deductions queries are cleared in favour of the customer, it is hopefully obvious that deductions also represent a major opportunity for retailers to ensure supplier compliance and grow their bottom line at the expense of less organised suppliers distracted by other, more exciting priorities….
For a free copy of our KamTips checklist on Deduction Reduction email me on

Friday 14 May 2010

A GSCOP-thought for the weekend?

Given that the designated retailers have little to gain and lots to lose from the spirit of GSCOP, it is unlikely that they are currently preparing to merely observe the letter of the new Code of Practice.

For instance:
Losses from Banned conditions:
  • No delay in Payments (they currently pay in 45 days approx., scope for negotiating extension, 90 days ring a bell?)
  • No requirement to predominantly fund a promotion ( move from fully-funded to 50%?)
  • No obligation to contribute to marketing costs (your current payments reduced to zero?)
  • No Payments for shrinkage (say average shrinkage = 2% of retail sales?)
  • No Payments for wastage (say 5% of sales, conservatively?)
  • No Payments as a condition of being a Supplier (your current payments for listing, etc = zero?)
  • Compensation for forecasting errors (think refund of incremental margin from normal sale of promo-stocks)
Potential recovery from:

  • Extending credit (by negotiated agreement?)
  • Trade funding (currently up to 20% of purchases, scope for more?)
  • Deductions off invoice (say 3 -10% of invoiced sales, scope for more?)
The designated retailers have to be working on ways of recovering losses from banned conditions, and also maintaining the status quo by signing suppliers up to a retailer-driven supply-agreement, written in whose favour…?

Are you missing a trick by simply awaiting the outcome?

Have a fair-share weekend, from the Namnews Team!