Lidl is being sued for £2.6m by a fruit and veg supplier who claims it was unfairly cut out of deals in a series of moves by the discount chain, alleging that “our businesses destroyed”.
Procter & Associates, which once supplied Lidl with 57 different types of fruit and vegetables, has filed a claim in the High Court after the German-owned discounter removed several of its products from the list. He had to shut down the business, which included asparagus, squash, peppers, apples, plums and broccoli, sold to Proctor’s suppliers without notice.
Dean Procter, Managing Director of Procter & Associates, said: “We built our business around and around the needs of Lidl. Despite this, I feel like Lidl backstabbed us. They took our suppliers and delisted us without any notice.
“I feel that over the last eight years Lidl has destroyed our business. Suppliers are too scared to do anything as Lidl might delist them. Lidl are not above the law. They are taken into account by the suppliers and the GCA should go [the Groceries Code Adjudicator],
In an example cited by the Grocer Trade Journal, which first reported the matter, Procter & Associates said it had supplied squash to Lidl for 11 years until 2019, when it alleged the retailer had cut its stock without notice. Stopped orders and used third party to source. Products from Proctor’s main supplier, RE Stacy.
In 2019, Lidl is said to have gone directly to Procter’s main supplier for ready-packaged vegetables for use in soups and stews, cutting Procter out of the loop.
The suit says such practices violate the Grocery Supply Code, a set of rules for dealing with suppliers by which large retailers must abide. The rules are overseen by the GCA – currently Mark White – who can investigate and issue fines of up to 1% of UK sales if it commits wrongdoing.
It is understood that Proctor brought a private legal case with the help of law firm Gordons rather than seeking intervention by the adjudicator, as this would have allowed him to claim compensation for loss of business.
The GCA said it would not comment on Proctor’s claims because of the ongoing legal matter.
Earlier this month White said he held “intense” talks with the supermarket, partly because of concerns about products being removed without proper notice.
In a GCA survey of 2,500 suppliers published in June, one in five suppliers said they had a problem with products being removed without proper notice. Lidl came last in the survey.
A spokesperson for Lidl said: “We are in the process of reviewing the claim and will respond in due course.”