UK: Christine Tacon to become Groceries Code Adjudicator

Christine Tacon

Christine Tacon - Credit: submitted

A FORMER head of the Co-operative Group’s farming business was today named by the Government as the new independent Groceries Code Adjudicator.

Christine Tacon, who was awarded a CBE for services to agriculture in 2004, will be responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP), which regulates interactions between the 10 largest supermarkets – those with an annual turnover of more than £1billion – and their direct suppliers.

Under legislation currently before Parliament, the adjudicator will also have powers to arbitrate disputes between large supermarkets and their direct suppliers and to launch investigations into suspected breaches of the code, including those arising from confidential complaints from any source.

If evidence of a breach is found, the adjudicator will be able to make recommendations against a supermarket, require it to publish details of its breach, or, in the most extreme cases, to impose fines.

Consumer and Competition Minister Jo Swinson said: “I congratulate Christine Tacon on her appointment as Groceries Code Adjudicator. This is an incredibly important position in the retail groceries sector making sure that large supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly and lawfully.

“Ms Tacon has a wide range of experience in the food, retail and farming industry and her appointment is 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.”

Ms Tacon will act as adjucator-designate until the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, which will formally create the office of the adjudicator, becomes law, when she will take up a four-year appointment.

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She said: “Being the Groceries Code Adjudicator is a significant responsibility, and I am honoured to have been given the chance to make a permanent and enduring difference to the groceries sector.

“Coming from a commercial background, I am sure that if we can increase trust between retailers and their direct suppliers, it will lead to greater efficiency and can only have a beneficial impact on the rest of the supply chain.”

Mr Tacon, a chartered engineering, gained 12 years’ experience in sales and marketing of fast moving consumer goods, with brands including Mars, Anchor and Vodafone, and ran the Co-operative Group’s farming business, the largest in the UK, for 11 years until 2012.

She is a Non-Executive Director of Anglia Farmers and Farmway Ltd, both farm supply businesses, chairmanof UK Farming plc, an investment business, and a member of DEFRA’s Strategic Regulatory Scrutiny Panel, looking at future regulation.

She also chairs the BBC’s rural affairs advisory committee and is a member of the business advisory board of Living with Environmental Change, a partnership of the UK’s research councils, a governor of Harper Adams University, which specialises in agribusiness, and a public member of Network Rail.

The National Farmers’ Union said the appointment of an adjudicator was “an important step in the battle to ensure fairness across the supply chain”.

NFU head of food and farming Phil Hudson said: “We lobbied Government for an independent adjudicator who can enforce the GSCOP, and can ensure a level playing field across the supply chain, and we are pleased to see this has come to fruition.

“Now Ms Tacon has been appointed, we look forward to her taking up post and quickly getting to grips with the issues affecting our members. Once she has formally taken up her role we will look to meet her to discuss our concerns over the way in which the supply chain operates.”