Homebase blitzed by media attacks

Multiple backs down on terms after HW reports on growers' fury

Growers have praised Horticulture Week for forcing Homebase to back down on its “outrageous” attempts to change its business terms. One grower, who did not wish to be named, said: “The publicity you give us is a tremendous help in these circumstances. It does get through to the boardroom.” HW understands Homebase has backed down by accepting a compromise solution with one grower for “a modest discount for early payment”. Homebase refused to comment on discussions with individuals and said it was “surprised” by the bad publicity that has forced it to rethink its strategy. The 300-store group demanded that growers supply free plants for new stores, pay for one-day sales and give discounts for paying within a month of receiving invoices (HW, 27 January). Other publications, including the Daily Telegraph, picked up the HW story. The Competition Commission criticised attempts by supermarkets to squeeze the supply chain in 2000, leading to the introduction of an industry code of behaviour. A grower said: “Every so often, the new owners of large retail groups try it on with an industry. Then there’s a major reaction from the industry and it gently fades away.” Homebase made a profit of £102 million last year. A Homebase statement, written for HW, said: “Homebase operates in a highly competitive retail market and it is important for all our suppliers that we continue to develop our business so that they can maximise the opportunities that exist to grow the market. This initiative is calling on them to join with us in making what will be a substantial investment over the coming months to help us improve and support our presentation of their products in our stores. “We believe this makes good business sense for all concerned, since the investment will allow us to provide better value to customers while growing our market which will, in turn, ensure that we purchase more from our suppliers to satisfy increased demand.”

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