Michael Medline, president and CEO of Empire Company Ltd., has addressed supplier concerns over payment terms.
In a letter Sobeys’ parent company shared with Grocery Business, Medline emphasized the importance he places on supplier partner relationships and the need to work together to create a level playing field.
“We need to be able to thrill our customers and compete financially with our competitors. And you need us to be strong and to thrive so that we can grow together.”
Medline says the decision to move to six standard payment terms nationally were “well researched and benchmarked, category by category. We are confident that we have this right.” But he added that the company “missed a step” by not giving suppliers time to implement the changes. “We could have done better as your partners – do things more in the Sobeys way.”
The new payment terms in the six categories will become effective June 1st 2019. Medline encouraged suppliers to use the company’s supplier portal if they had concerns or wanted to request a meeting. As of April 5, 56 food suppliers had expressed concerns out of the 4800 suppliers that Sobeys deals with.
“If you believe you are in the wrong payment term category, we want to hear from you. If your company is one of the exceptions, we will deal with the fact and we will treat you fairly.”
In addition to the letter, Medline spoke to more than 400 suppliers on April 4 during the Retail Council of Canada’s retail breakfast and received positive responses from suppliers at the meeting.