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Retailer replies to 'bullying' charge

MATERIALS

CONSTRUCTION product retailer Focus has hit back at critics who accused it of short changing suppliers.

The retail giant claimed that changes it has made to its payment terms would actually benefit suppliers in the long term.

Focus was responding to accusations by business pressure group the Forum of Private Business that it was bullying suppliers. It reported Focus to the Office of Fair Trading and the Department of Trade and Industry following complaints from manufacturers that it was forcing them to accept midcontract changes in payment terms, benefiting the retailer.

The forum had claimed that Focus was abusing its market power by calling on small producers to pay more to help it cut its own distribution costs and called on the Government and OFT to crack down on large companies bullying producers into accepting changes in contracts.

But Focus defended its actions and claimed the changes would benefit the entire supply chain.

A spokesman said: 'The aim of this exercise was to simplify terms, make them more equitable and transparent in order that suppliers both large and small can benefit from the same discounts. We make no apology for seeking to agree change to ref lect the increasingly competitive retail environment.'