News archive

Below is a list of archive news items. For recent updates, see Latest news.

1st January 2012 Harper Adams University

I have accepted an invitation to be a Governor at Harper Adams.

2nd January 2012 Farmway Ltd

I am now an Independent Non Executive Director of Farmway Ltd and have had my first board meeting.

1st February 2012 LWEC Review

Living with Environmental Change was set up to coordinate the work of the Research Councils. It is customary to have reviews of effectiveness and I have been invited onto the panel to look into this. It will be an interesting exercise as I have only just joined the Business Advisory Board arm of LWEC and finding out the extent to which it is living up to its remit is a good place to start.

1st May 2012 UK Farming PLC

I’ve accepted the chairmanship of the above which is being set up by Brooks Macdonald Asset Management as a means for private individuals to invest in land ownership and farming.

30th May 2012 UK Farming plc official launch

> Press release
> Request prospectus

1st June 2012 BBC Food and Farming Awards

I am a judge of the BBC Food and Farming Awards Farmer of the Year (with Adam Henson from Countryfile) as well as the Big Food Idea category.

> Food and Farming Awards website

2nd June 2012 Farmers Weekly “Farmers Apprentice” competition

I am a judge of the Farmers Weekly “Farmers Apprentice” competition involving a one week boot camp of apprentices undertaking relevant farming tasks sponsored by McDonald’s.
Farmers Apprentice website

2nd September 2012 Anglia Farmers – Non Executive Director

I have been co-opted as a Non Executive Director of Anglia Farmers, the £250m turnover buying group commencing Sept 2012.
> Anglia Farmers Limited

22nd October 2012 - 26th October 2012 Farmers Weekly Farmers Apprentice judging

Bootcamp at Reaseheath College to judge the 10 finalists to be the Farmers Weekly farm apprentice. Winner gets £10k.

All confidential as it was all filmed and will be released end November on-line, building up to who has won, which will be announced on Dec 5th. The winner doesn’t know either!

1st November 2012 Network Rail – Public member

I have been accepted as a Public Member of Network Rail: there are about 40 Public Members who act as shareholders, serving a 3 year term commencing Nov 2012.

> Network Rail: Our Members

21st January 2013 Appointed Groceries Code Adjudicator

Consumer and Competition Minister Jo Swinson today announced that Christine Tacon has been appointed to the newly created role as the independent Groceries Code Adjudicator.

In her new role, Christine will be responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which regulates interactions between the ten largest supermarkets with an annual turnover of >£1bn and their direct suppliers.

> GCA appt- Press Notice

For media coverage, see Media

27th February 2013 BIS Select Committee approves my appointment to GCA

The Business Industry and Skills (BIS) Select Committee, who have scrutinised the Grocery Code Adjudicator Bill, asked for a pre-appointment hearing to meet the Government’s proposed candidate for the post of Groceries Code Adjudicator. This was a specially convened meeting in the House of Commons, which lasted an hour with questions on my experience and how I was going to approach the role. The full script will be made available, I currently have the draft to correct for typos. It was filmed and mentioned on Today in Parliament

17th April 2013 Included in the 2013 Cranfield ‘100 Women to Watch’ list

I’ve been included in the 2013 ‘100 Women to Watch’ report, published by Cranfield University’s International Centre for Women Business Leaders (‘CICWL’). The report complements the Centre’s ‘Female FTSE Report’, which measures the number of women executive directors on the corporate boards of the UK’s top 100 companies.

> More about the CICWL

100_women

> 100 Women to Watch Report

25th April 2013 Royal Assent for Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill

 

GROCERIES CODE ADJUDICATOR BILL RECEIVES ROYAL ASSENT 

The Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill was given Royal Assent today, creating the UK’s first independent adjudicator to oversee the relationship between large supermarkets and their direct suppliers. 

Competition Minister Jo Swinson said: 

“This Government is committed to ensuring that all businesses have access to fair and open markets. 

“The Groceries Code Adjudicator will make sure that large supermarkets abide by the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, and treat their suppliers fairly and lawfully. This will give suppliers the stability to help them grow, innovate and compete in the market.  That is why I’m delighted the Bill achieved Royal Assent today. 

“I am sure that the Adjudicator will make strides towards delivering fairer food supply chains and stronger growth in the industry.”

Full press release here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/announcements?keywords=&announcement_type_option=press-releases&topics[]=all&departments[]=department-for-business-innovation-skills&world_locations[]=all&direction=before&date=2013-05-01&commit=Refresh+results

30th June 2013 Member of Natural Environment Research Council

I have been increasingly involved in NERC and BBSRC in the past 18 months to increase awareness of the potential of engineering in agriculture and to ensure that research fits the “sustainable intensification” of agriculture agenda for future food security. I am delighted that they think I can add value to the Council.

30th June 2013 Non Executive Director of Met Office

There was a hold up approving one of the other new NEDs, so this has been a while getting out. I have been to a board meeting and had an induction, a wonderful outfit to be part of and loads of potential.

 

Text of the press release:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Wendy Barnes, Christine Tacon, David Burridge and Sir John Beddington as Non-Executive Directors. They will join Paul Rew (Non-Executive Director), David Curley (Shareholder Executive Advisor) and the senior Met Office Executives in comprising the Met Office Board.

The new Non-Executive Directors bring a wide range of knowledge and expertise that will help the Met Office meet its corporate plan objectives. They will help support us in the provision of weather and climate services that help Government, the public and commercial customers achieve their goals through enabling protection, increasing prosperity and improving well-being. I am very much looking forward to working with the new Board, utilising the members’ diverse range of skills and experience to best meet the challenges posed by climate, weather and the international economic situation in the coming years.

Chief Executive John Hirst has commented: “It’s really good that we have been able to attract such high calibre people. I am confident that the new Board composition will provide strong support and constructive challenge to the Executive.”

It is with great thanks that I mark the retirement of Sir Brian Hoskins and Mike Goodfellow for the support, guidance and intelligent advice they have contributed to the Met Office Board over the years and wish them both all the best for the future.

Greg Clarke
Met Office Chairman

 

31st July 2013 GCA consultation launched

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/statutory-guidance-on-how-the-groceries-code-adjudicator-will-carry-out-investigation-and-enforcement-functions

1st August 2013 Australian Supermarket Symposium video

I couldn’t attend so we made this video in a lunch break to help them out. Apparently it went down very well

15th November 2013 Rich Pickings: Harvesting Scotland’s potential in the food and drink industry

Brodies

I am giving the keynote address entitled ‘The role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator’ at Perth Racecourse.

Registration is now open for delegates.  Register your place now: http://brodi.es/19gwbOG

The conference is sponsored by Brodies solicitors and will be promoted by ScottishLand & Estates, National Farmers Union, FoodDrinkEurope and the Scotch Whisky Association.

 

26th November 2013 Toughen up: what Australia’s supermarket code could learn from the UK

This is an interesting opinion piece by Professor Caron Beaton-Wells drawing attention to the weaknesses of the Australian code as compared to the UK model.

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17th January 2014 BBC Any Questions

Joining panel with Jonathan Dimbleby, Andrew Mitchell MP, Andy Burnham, Tony Caldeira in Southport

3rd May 2014 GCA Bristol Food Festival BBC Costing the Earth debate

I have been asked to participate in the debate which will be recorded on 3rd for playing out on May 5th

22nd May 2014 GCA Hay Festival Food Security and Labelling Debate 22th May

I have been asked numerous times to speak at this Festival but always too late to get in my diary. Last year we put the date in straight away.
Speaking alongside Prof Tim Benton Champion for Global Food Security.
I have never been to the Festival so am looking forward to this but it will cost people £4 to hear us on the Good Energy Stage at 1700

24th May 2014 - 26th May 2014 Groceries Code Survey still open

The YouGov survey is staying open for entries over the bank holiday weekend. So if you haven’t entered you still can.www.yougov.com/gca
If you want to know more first, visit the website www.gov.uk/gca and you can link from there too.

19th June 2014 Anglia Farmers AGM

Following the board meeting at 1200

23rd June 2014 - 24th June 2014 Groceries Code Adjudicator Conference 23rd (and 24th) June 2014

June 23rd: One day conference QEII Conference Centre Westminster.

June 24th: Activities for overseas visitors

Flyer – GCA Conference CT-final

5th October 2014 Worshipful Company sheep drive over London Bridge

Maybe an ancient right, maybe not, but good fun and all to raise money for charity.

 

Driving sheep on London Bridge

9th October 2014 Pinsent Masons North West women in business event GCA

I am the guest speaker

5th February 2015 Tacon launches investigation into Tesco plc

Refer to GCA website

6th February 2015 GCA Newsletter published

Newsletter Edition 2

1st July 2015 Network Rail Public Members disbanded

Following a statement in the House of Commons on 25th June by the Secretary of State, the role of Public Members ceases to exist from July 1st. Given the AGM was scheduled for the 15th July, this came as a surprise on timing, but it was clear that there was too much Governance once the debt was classified as government debt and the Dept of Transport became involved in Network Rail oversight and Governance.

The 46 Public Members will have a final meeting on 14th July to be thanked for our contribution.

My term of office was due to cease in November 2015 and I had not applied to serve a second term.

 

 

20th July 2015 GCA Annual report published
7th August 2015 GCA Newsletter published
18th November 2015 GCA 5th newsletter published
26th January 2016 GCA Investigation into Tesco plc published

The full report can be found at www.gov.uk/gca (from 1000)

4th March 2016 Food and Drink Wales suppliers symposium, Aberystwyth

A symposium organised in conjunction with the Welsh government to update suppliers on the work of the GCA.

I will make time to have private discussions with suppliers who want to raise issues with me.

14th April 2016 GCA Investigation Report into Tesco plc, Edinburgh

An event organised with the support of SF&D and SFDF for suppliers to hear about the GCA role, the recent investigation and with surgery sessions for suppliers afterwards who want a private talk with the adjudicator

25th April 2016 GCA Investigation Report into Tesco plc, Belfast

An event organised with the support of NIFDA for suppliers to hear about the GCA role, the recent investigation and with surgery sessions for suppliers afterwards who want a private talk with the adjudicator

1st May 2016 Met Office Non Executive Director role ends

After 3 exciting years being on the Met Office board, I will leave at the end of May. 4 of us were appointed at the same time and best practice is that boards rotate (ideally not all at once…) and other people are given a chance. The decision was understandably made to keep the 2 scientists on the board so I am leaving but wishing them all the best. It is a fantastic organisation, world leading and now is midway through a £97m project to install a super-computer. Well set for the future.

3rd May 2016 Appointed Chair MDS Ltd

The MDS Ltd board of Directors has appointed Christine Tacon CBE as Chair, effective from May 3 2016.

Christine has extensive produce industry experience.  She managed the Co-operative Group’s farming business for 11 years and was awarded a CBE for services to Agriculture in 2004. Prior to this, Christine worked within Mars Confectionery, Fonterra and Vodafone, and has demonstrated her commitment to the next generation through Ladies in Agriculture.  In 2015 she was appointed as the first Groceries Code Adjudicator

Christine brings to MDS her ability to combine strategic leadership with practical understanding of both private and public sectors. This is backed by a strong commercial background in fast-moving consumer goods, farming and the environment and extensive communications experience in high-profile roles.

Julius Joel, Director and former MDS trainee said: “It is great that Christine has agreed to help us take MDS to its next level.  Her experience and energy will help the business strengthen its service to its member companies, re-invigorate its training platform and build on the unique management development program we offer.”

 

About Management Development Serviced Ltd (MDS)

 

Since its inception in 1986 MDS has established itself as a leading training provider for talented graduates in the fresh food and produce industry. MDS has expanded steadily as companies seek to safeguard the future by attracting the right calibre of talent into the produce industry.

 

Today, MDS has 30 member companies with activities that encompass the whole supply chain of vegetables, salads, fruit, flowers, plants, arable and prepared food products in the UK and internationally. A strong list of new membership applications now highlight the interest in what is now seen as a ‘model’ for specialist management training. MDS is an independent non-profit making organisation whose aim is to recruit and train the very best people to secure the future of this fast-changing industry. The strength of MDS comes from members working in partnership with a common goal, even though some may be competitors in the commercial world. MDS is run by a Board of Directors appointed from within the membership, with day-to-day management support from a team based in Peterborough.

 

6th May 2016 Honorary Professorship from Harper Adams University

I have been awarded an Honorary Professorship which entails giving a couple of lectures a year at the University: I am humbled by the honour and pleased to maintain an ongoing link with the University.

Until the end of April I was a Governor but felt I no longer had time to do this role justice: there is also a potential conflict in that Harper Adams accredits the MDS Post Graduate Certificate.

I will continue to support Harper Adams University which this year was voted Number One in the WhatUni Awards!

19th June 2017 MDS Meet the Trainees and IGD MasterClass

A twice yearly opportunity for MDS members to meet the trainees.

Trainees present for one minute what they are looking for in their next secondment. There is a book of all their summary CVs.

Members give a short overview of the secondments they are offering.

IGD will run a Masterclass afterwards. 

 

Old Barn Peterborough

 

26th June 2017 Annual GCA Conference 26/06

During the conference I will be reporting on the previous year’s GCA activities, YouGov will present the results of my annual survey and there will be a workshop for suppliers to share information with me.

The conference will be held at Church House Conference Centre, Dean’s Yard, Westminster SW1P 3NZ. 

This conference is free of charge, to register please visit the GCA website.

 

 

26th June 2017 Press Coverage: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Christine Tacon reappointed as Groceries Code Adjudicator


The Groceries Code ensures a level playing field between supermarkets and their direct suppliers.

 

Read the article here

26th June 2017 Press Coverage: Farmers Weekly.

Supermarket treatment of suppliers – the good, bad and ugly.


Asda and Iceland have come bottom of a league table ranking UK supermarkets on fair trading practices with suppliers, while Aldi and Sainsburys have come top.

The results come from a YouGov survey of suppliers, conducted on behalf of supermarket watchdog the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).

Delays in payments and no compensation for forecasting errors were again the top issues suppliers said they faced.

Eighteen percent of suppliers said Iceland “rarely” complied with the Groceries Code – legislation intended to ensure the UK’s biggest retailers treat suppliers fairly – while the figures was 11% for Asda, with 1% saying it “never” complied.

Only 5% of suppliers said Aldi and Sainsbury’s rarely or never complied, meaning Aldi topped the charts for the fourth year running, while Sainsbury’s was the best of the “big four” retailers for the fourth year. 

Issues at Iceland and Asda

Christine Tacon, the current GCA, said Iceland had scored well with suppliers on individual issues and no suppliers said they had raised issues.

A closer look found the retailer was not necessarily breaching the code, but was coming very close and leaving suppliers “in a constant state of jeopardy” where they always felt threatened, said Ms Tacon.

She said Iceland had “really taken this on board” and changed some practices, such as removing charges to suppliers for consumer complaints, in an effort to move up the table.

At Asda, however, 19% of suppliers said its trading practices had got worse over the past 12 months – the highest figure for any retailer in the survey.

Of those direct suppliers who raised issues about retailer practices over the past year, nearly a third said they had done so about Asda.  

In a table ranking the supermarkets on each code-related issue, such as late payments or unfair charges, one retailer was given the worst score on 11 out of 14 issues – far higher than any other retailer.

Cultural change at Tesco and Morrisons

Ms Tacon said a cultural change was happening at Morrisons and it had moved up the rankings as a result – 44% of suppliers surveyed said it had improved its practices in the past year.

Tesco, which has also undergone a big cultural change since the GCA’s investigation into bad practices last year, saw 54% of suppliers say it had improved.

The number of suppliers who said they had raised an issue about Tesco also dropped from 32% in 2016 to 18%.

The YouGov survey was conducted in March and April and asked suppliers about their treatment over the past 12 months.

A total of 1,220 direct suppliers took part (up from 900 last year), 198 indirect suppliers and 35 trade associations.

 Read the article here
26th June 2017 Press Coverage: Fresh Produce Journal.

Groceries Code Adjudicator agrees to a further year in the post, while new survey suggests her work is having a major impact.


Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon has confirmed that she will continue for a further year, while the new government evaluates the role’s remit.

At the GCA’s annual conference in Westminster on 26 June, Tacon said her decision “allows both me and BEIS ministers to consider whether I am the right person for the role if the call for evidence leads to significant change to the GCA.”

The event also saw the release of Tacon’s office’s latest survey, which shows fewer direct suppliers saying they had experienced code breaches for the fourth year running. The proportion now stands at 56 per cent, down from 62 per cent in 2016 and a high of 79 per cent in 2014.

“The overall fall is welcome, but the more dramatic data comes from looking at supplier experience of issues that I have identified among my Top 5 and where I have used collaborative or more formal regulatory action to drive change,” Tacon said. She named her new Top 5 issues as delayed payments, forecasting, promotions, payments for better positioning and ‘pay to stay’.

Among the standout figures in the report, only 12 per cent of suppliers reported forensic auditing as an issue in 2017, down from 45 per cent in 2014 – this followed a voluntary commitment among eight out of 10 supermarkets to restrict the practice.

Only 10 per cent of suppliers raised concerns about lump sum payments for margin maintenance, down from 36 per cent in 2014. That followed Tacon’s investigation into Tesco, which made clear that any request for margin needed to be unambiguously supported by supply agreements.

In 2014 unjustified charges for consumer complaints was the second-biggest issue, with 37 per cent of suppliers reporting it. A year later Tacon’s office published a best practice statement and monitored progress, leading to only 12 per cent of suppliers reporting it as an issue in 2017.

And following action from the adjudicator, only 11 per cent have reported concerns with packaging charges this year, compared to 24 per cent in 2014 and 30 per cent in 2015.

Tacon said: “Suppliers have found the issue of packaging and design charges to be an irritant for years. Recently a supplier in the fresh produce industry told me that that they had been trying to resolve the problem of overcharging in this area for more than 10 years. But within 18 months of me focusing on the problem he was pleased to say the issue had gone away.

“I see this as a sign that the collaborative approach that I have promoted has been a real engine of change and is achieving positive results across all retailers. I am delighted that suppliers are seeing the benefits of this change.”

For the fourth year running, Aldi topped the overall table in which suppliers rank their perception of retailers’ compliance with the code. Sainsbury’s was the highest placed of the big four, also for the fourth year in a row.

“I am also pleased to report that suppliers are recognising that Tesco is continuing to improve; as is Morrisons, following a step change in its engagement with suppliers,” Tacon added.

Tony Baines, managing director of buying at Aldi, welcomed the report. “We are incredibly proud to have topped the Groceries Code Adjudicator’s annual survey for the fourth consecutive year,” he said. “We recognise that pressure on supply chains is increasing across the retail sector, but our approach will not change. We will continue to build long-term relationships with suppliers that are fair, sustainable and predictable.”

 

Read the article here

26th June 2017 Press Coverage: Horticulture Week.

Unfair packaging charges reduced says adjudicator, but payment delays still troubling.


Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon says the latest polling data from supermarket suppliers “demonstrate major progress across key issues” during her four years in the role. But she says payment delays remain a major issue.

The latest YouGov survey, carried out each year to coincide with the GCA’s annual conference, shows for the fourth year running that fewer of direct suppliers (down from 62% last year to 56%) said they had experienced one or more breaches of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCoP), which the GCA polices.

Tacon said: “The overall fall is welcome, but the more dramatic data comes from looking at supplier experience of issues that I have identified among my Top Five, and where I have used collaborative or more formal regulatory action to drive change.”

The figures show a fall in suppliers experiencing:

  • “forensic auditing”  – from 45% in 2014, to 12% in 2017;
  • “margin maintenance” requests, from 36% in 2014 to 10%;
  • unjustified charges for consumer complaints, down from 37% to 12%;
  • unfair packaging and design charges, down from 24% to 11%;

Tacon added: “Suppliers have found the issue of packaging and design charges to be an irritant for years. Recently a supplier in the fresh produce industry told me that that they had been trying to resolve the problem of overcharging in this area for more than 10 years. But within 18 months of me focusing on the problem he was pleased to say the issue had gone away.”

The 2017 survey also saw a increase of more than threefold in the number of suppliers participating, rising to 1,220. It also revealed:

  • For the fourth year running, Aldi topped the overall table in suppliers’ perception of retailers’ compliance with the code, while Tesco “is continuing to improve”, Tacon noted;
  • Delay in payments continues to be the issue of highest concern to suppliers, with with 32% of suppliers reporting incorrect deductions from invoices, with or without notice.

Tacon noted on this last point: “There is still work to be done in this area and I am right to maintain this as one of my Top Five issues.”

At the conference in London, Tacon confirmed she has committed to another year as GCA. Her remit is still being considered by the Government.

Read the article here

26th June 2017 Press Coverage: The Guardian.

Asda is named worst supermarket in treatment of suppliers.


Asda has been named as the worst of the UK’s major supermarkets in its treatment of suppliers. It dropped below Morrisons, which was bottom of the list last year, as the Bradford-based chain took action to improve its performance according to a survey of more than 1,200 grocery suppliers by the industry watchdog.

About 12% of Asda’s suppliers said the Walmart-owned chain rarely or never complied with the Grocery Supply Code of Practice, which covers dealings by 10 retailers that sell over £1bn of groceries a year.

A spokesperson for Asda said: “We’ve listened to the GCA and worked to improve our ways of working with suppliers to ensure we’re doing our job in the best way we can. This includes ensuring our smaller suppliers are paid within 14 days, simplifying our processes, and eliminating some of our supplier charges and audits. We will also be introducing further changes, including the expansion of a dedicated helpdesk to ensure our suppliers have a single point of contact to raise any concerns.”

Christine Tacon, the grocery code adjudicator who enforces the rules and has the power to fine retailers, said that she was generally pleased with progress since she came into office four years ago. She said more suppliers were getting involved as they found that she was able to bring about real change in the grocery market.

Overall, the proportion of suppliers who said they had a problem with breaches of the code fell to 56% from 62% last year. Incorrect deductions from invoices remain the top problem, affecting 32% of suppliers, followed by data input errors not being resolved promptly then unfair charges for packaging artwork.

She said she had not received any specific complaints about Iceland breaching the code, but suppliers felt “in a constant state of jeopardy” in their dealings with the discounter. They feared that their products would be removed from its shelves if they took a wrong step.

Iceland said it had the best score of all the retailers in terms of specific issues raised by suppliers despite its low ranking on overall compliance. A spokesman said: “We have worked hard to improve our compliance to achieve this, and feel sure that this will be acknowledged by our suppliers.”

The survey found that Aldi offered the best compliance with the code of practice for the fourth year in a row, followed by Sainsbury’s.

Read the article here.

30th June 2017 Press Coverage: CCH Daily.

People in the news.


Consumer Minister Margot James has announced the reappointment of Christine Tacon CBE as the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA). Having held the role since its launch, Tacon has overseen significant progress in compliance with the Groceries Code. In 2015 she investigated alleged Code breaches by Tesco, which resulted in the supermarket adopting fairer payment practices and improved transparency in all its dealings with suppliers.

Read the full article here