Grocery suppliers to the retail multiples need to ensure their commercial staff have a greater understanding of GSCOP (the Grocery Supply Code of Practice) and how it can be used for the benefit of their own businesses.

That’s the message from category and shopper management specialist, Bridgethorne, which has been appointed an official GSCOP training partner. GSCOP is legislation that regulates the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers. Under the code, if a retailer fails to comply, then a supplier can ask the GSCOP Adjudicator to intervene in their dispute. The GSCOP Adjudicator has the power to arbitrate, investigate and fine the retailer if appropriate.

In 2015, a YouGov survey of suppliers, commissioned by the GCA, found that key issues being investigated under GSCOP included charges for artwork and design services, delay in payments, margin maintenance, pay to stay arrangements and payments for better positioning.

“It’s really important in this highly competitive market that those who supply direct to supermarkets keep their knowledge and understanding of GSCOP – and the protections that it affords them – up to date,” explains John Nevens, Joint Managing Director, Bridgethorne.

“Supermarket buyers have to be trained in the Code but there is no requirement for suppliers to be so. This could be putting suppliers at a significant disadvantage. Suppliers’ commercial teams need to know how GSCOP can help them in building constructive relationships with supermarket buyers as well as in maintaining their own positions in trade negotiations.”

Bridgethorne offers comprehensive GSCOP training that is designed to create a more balanced supplier/retailer relationship. It addresses potential code breaches, other code-related concerns, how to plan for existing challenges and future scenarios, the escalation process and implications of arbitration. Using supply side and retail expertise, Bridgethorne’s blended classroom and online training aims to deliver a rapid return on clients’ training investment.