Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon has announced that she is to step down next year after seven years in the role.
Tacon made the announcement at the 2019 GCA conference in London on Monday. Tacon will be replaced in the role, but her suggestion that she is looking to encourage more of a self-regulatory approach within the retail sector prior to her departure has raised eyebrows.
Tacon said she was committed in her final year to working with each of the 12 large retailers to ensure all their practices, systems and behaviours are designed and structured to meet their obligations under the Groceries Supply Code of Practice.
“I am introducing a common factors approach to guide their compliance risk management activity,” she said. “However they are set up I want to see the retailers build for themselves a whole-organisation approach to Code compliance.
Tacon published the results of her annual survey, which suggested continuing improvement in retailer behaviour. For the second year running only four out of ten suppliers reported having experienced an issue at any point in the year.
The Co-operative Group Limited topped the table as the biggest improver after significant scrutiny from the GCA following a year-long investigation which found that the retailer had breached the Code.
Tacon made it clear she is not keen for the role of the GCA to be extended, for example to bring in processors, despite widespread calls for the move from within the farming industry.
She said: “I am clear in my own mind that it would mean significant change in the way the work of the GCA is done. The levy funding model would have to be altered, so a few large retailers were not paying for the GCA to regulate arrangements over which they had no direct control.
“The collaborative approach I have established would not have been possible with a much larger cohort of regulated businesses, or if my job were to champion individual supplier issues or causes.”