Retailers criticised on payment as Prompt Payment Code comes in

The voluntary Prompt Payment Code could help suppliers as retailers are criticised for delays.

MarketInvoice, a peer-to-peer platform for selling invoices online, has found that late payments to suppliers rocketed last year, with five big retailers among the worst offenders.

These five paid 82.9 per cent of their bills after they were due compared with an average of 69.8 per cent for all high street names, according to the report, which analysed over 30,000 invoices – of which 500 were from retailers.

The retailers questioned the findings and said they paid on time. Some say they have signed up to a new Prompt Payment Code, which comes into force in April 2016. The Prompt Payment Code (PPC) sets standards for payment practices and best practice and is administered by the Chartered Institute of Credit Management. Compliance with the principles of the Code is monitored and enforced by the Prompt Payment Code Compliance Board. The Code covers prompt payment, as well as wider payment procedures. The code is administrated by the Chartered Institute of Credit Managers on behalf of BIS.

The report showed that supermarkets paid 68.7 per cent of their invoices after the due date. That compares with 60 per cent for large companies across all sectors.

Anil Stocker, chief executive of MarketInvoice, said: "There’s a clear culture of systematic late payment at the heart of the UK’s largest high-street corporates.

"With small businesses often reliant on these household names, they are in position of real power, and they are abusing that power. No one wants to bite the hand that feeds, so suppliers are stuck in a hard place."

Meanwhile, Homebase, having been bought from Home Retail Group by Wesfarmers this week, is believed to have replaced Homebase’s leadership team with its own appointees.

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