Britain’s second biggest garden centre group will seek new suppliers if its stock providers give rival Dobbies the rebate it is demanding.
Klondyke operations director David Yardley has also called for suppliers to pay similar credits to him if Dobbies pay them to other retailers.
Dobbies (HW 2 August) is asking for a one per cent rebate from some suppliers to compensate for its poor returns during this weather-hit season. This follows Wyevale, the UK’s biggest garden centre chain, asking for 1.5 per cent to pay for display materials in June (HW 15 June).
Klondyke chairman Bob Gault said he does not want to deal with suppliers who cave in to Dobbies’ demands: “We’ve taken an alternative view to Dobbies asking suppliers for a rebate in what we’ve written to our suppliers. We’ve said we don’t believe in this sort of behaviour. We have never stood for it. But if we found our suppliers giving rebates to other retailers – if they succumb to their demands then they will become persona non-grata with us.
“We suggest other independents should adopt the same track. I think it’s bloody disgraceful.
Yardley said Dobbies is asking suppliers to “prop up their business. Retailers should be able to run their own businesses profitably and not have to lean on their suppliers in this way”.
He wrote to suppliers: “There are lots of stories in our industry of secret deals being done where bribes are given to secure listings and agreements reneged on when a better deal is offered. We don’t agree with these current tactics which in our opinion are tantamount to blackmail.
“If we discover that one of our suppliers have supported any of these other retailers then we would expect them to support us and every other customer in the same way. We would then have to consider if we were dealing with the right supplier and possibly look to change.”
Bransford Webbs managing director Geoff Caesar, who supplies both Klondyke and Dobbies, said times are worrying leading up to renegotiation of contracts this autumn: “We have different arrangements with each of them. I’ve written to David Yardley but am not in a position to discuss our terms. Everyone has different relationships with retailers. This will not change the way we do business.
“It’s difficult to be on the receiving end of demands for credits. Margins for growers are slim to say the least. With Dobbies now being Tesco-owned the marketplace is going to rationalise. Big retailers will operate with plant suppliers the same as with the rest of their supply base.”
Dobbies chief executive James Barnes told HW: "I know nothing about this. It's all news to me. I don't know who he's referring to or what deals. We negotiate deals on an individual basis with individual suppliers."
Referring to the rebate Dobbies asked for from suppliers last month, Barnes said: "I've nothing to add to that. We negotiate individually with each supplier. What they're suggesting on blackmail-absolutely not. We would always try ad negotiate better prices with our suppliers-that's what our buyers are there to do-and our plant sales are up this year. We are looking to tweak our buying practice in terms of reserving more stock and if we can negotiate better prices on the back of that, then great."
Wyevale said: "Wyevale deals with its suppliers in a completely open, transparent and professional manner. We expect suppliers to partner with us to deliver best prices and value for our customers on terms which are keenly negotiated to be beneficial for both parties."
B&Q said: “We wouldn’t make a comment on someone’s else’s letter to their suppliers.”
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