Supermarkets ombudsman aims to stop bullies

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The Independent Online

The first ombudsman designed to crack down on the big supermarkets bullying suppliers in the £163bn grocery sector has been named by the Government.

Christine Tacon, who ran the Co-operative group's farming business for 11 years, will have the power to fine the UK's 10 biggest supermarkets, including Tesco and Asda, with turnover above £1bn, as the groceries code adjudicator.

But industry experts are sceptical about whether her appointment will deliver change, as no supermarket has ever been fined by a government body for mistreating a supplier. Ms Tacon, pictured, will hold the post for four years, although she will not officially take up the role until the revised groceries code adjudicator is passed by Parliament later this year.

In a case of poacher turned gamekeeper, she will be paid a salary of £69,000 and will work for three days a week.

Bryan Roberts, the insights director at Kantar Retail, said: "I am not convinced the adjudicator will really change much. A lot of the aggressive behaviour and demands that the big supermarkets put on suppliers are all perfectly legal and within the code of conduct, such as the so-called 'investment' in promotions."