Beware the buyer
1st September, 2004
Supermarkets are keen to portray themselves as loyal and supportive business partners, nurturing suppliers in their quest for the best deal for consumers.
Tesco says it is ‘committed to maintaining strong mutually advantageous relationships with our suppliers’. Asda asserts its ‘belief in good relationships, which we work to improve all the time’. And Sainsbury’s says: ‘We are very proud of the good relationships we have with our suppliers’.
To the consumer, this sounds reassuring. Occasionally, however, the mask of benevolence slips, as was the case in an interview with former Safeway chief executive Carlos Criado-Perez. Pushed as to why there was growing unrest among suppliers and complaints that Safeway was acting aggressively, Criado-Perez insisted that his firm’s relations with its 2,000 suppliers were good. But he offered an unusually forthright insight into Safeway’s current business strategy. ‘We are very keen negotiators and, increasingly, it becomes a more challenging dialogue. It’s our job to prise every penny out of suppliers. Every single penny comes either from them or the customers. We try to do business ethically, but we also want to do what is best business for our shareholders.’
Speak to suppliers directly and they will tell you precisely what they make of that....
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