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Government Appoints New Supermarket Watchdog To Make Sure Suppliers Are Treated Fairly

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SUPERMARKET WATCHDOG APPOINTED
Christine Tacon, pictured here collecting her MBE in 2004, wull be scrutinising supermarkets | Christine Tacon

Supermarkets will be named and shamed if they don't treat their suppliers fairly, thanks to a new watchdog position created by the government.

Christine Tacon has been appointed to the newly created role as the independent Groceries Code Adjudicator, earning £69,000 a year for a three days a week position.

The announcement comes five years after the post was first recommended by the Competition Commission, following a lengthy investigation which found that large retailers were passing on excessive risks and unexpected costs to their suppliers.

Supermarkets were told to clean up their act and launch a body to oversee how suppliers were treated, but the Commission was forced to intervene when the supermarkets failed to get enough support to develop their own ombudsman.

Tacon will have the power to launch investigations into suspected breaches of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice code, including those arising from confidential complaints from any source.

If she finds evidence of a breach, Tacon will be able to make recommendations against a supermarket, require them to publish details of their breach, or, in the most extreme cases, impose fines. She will also have the power to arbitrate disputes between large supermarkets and their direct suppliers.

Welcoming the appointment, business minister Jo Swinson said in a statement: "This is an incredibly important position in the retail groceries sector, making sure that large supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly and lawfully.

"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."

Tacon will be required to appear before the department for Business Innovation and Skills' Select Committee for a pre-appointment hearing before starting in her new role.

Who is Christine Tacon?

Tacon was the former boss of the Co-operative's farming business for 11 years before working on a number of government taskforces.

She currently chairs the BBC Rural Affairs Advisory Committee and is a public member of Network Rail. A Cambridge engineering graduate, Tacon also has an MBA from Cranfield and was awarded a CBE for services to agriculture in 2004.

Her other appointments include being a non-executive director of Anglia Farmers and Farmway, chair of UK Farming, a member of DEFRA's Strategic Regulatory Scrutiny Panel, and being a governor of Harper Adams University, which specialises in agribusiness.

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Filed by Charlie Thomas