New supermarket ombudsman finally appointed

A new supermarket ombudsman has been appointed to police the relationship between the ten largest supermarkets and their suppliers.

A new supermarket ombudsman has been appointed to police the relationship between the ten largest supermarkets and their suppliers.

The ombudsman will have the power to 'name and shame' and fine retailers that break the rules governing how supermarkets treat their suppliers.

Consumer and Competition Minister Jo Swinson announced that Christine Tacon would take on the newly created role as the independent Groceries Code Adjudicator.

The announcement has been a long time coming, and follows a recommendation from the Competition Commission in 2008 that such a role should be created.

In her new role Tacon will be responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, designed to make sure large supermarkets - with annual turnover of over £1bn each - treat their suppliers fairly and lawfully.

She will have the power to launch investigations into suspected breaches of the code, including those arising from confidential complaints from any source.

If she finds evidence of a breach, the adjudicator will be able to make recommendations against a supermarket, require them to publish details of their breach, or, in the most extreme cases, to impose fines.

She will also have the power to arbitrate disputes between large supermarkets and their direct suppliers.

Consumer and Competition Minister Jo Swinson said Tacon had a wide range of experience in the food, retail and farming industry and her appointment was "a real milestone".

"Her knowledge of the sector will be of huge benefit, and I'm sure will be crucial in making the Groceries Code Adjudicator a positive and powerful contributor to the groceries industry," she said.

Tacon said increasing trust between retailers and their direct suppliers would lead to greater efficiency and benefit the rest of the supply chain.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, which will formally create the office of the Adjudicator, is currently before Parliament.

Tacon should take up the four-year role later this year.

She is a chartered engineer with 12 years experience in sales and marketing of fast moving consumer goods, including Mars, Anchor and Vodafone.

She ran the Co-operative Group's farming business, the largest in the UK, for 11 years until 2012.

She was awarded a CBE for services to agriculture in 2004.

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