Amazon Threatened With Probe by UK Grocery Supply Watchdog

A customer shops at the Inc. Amazon Fresh cashierless convenience store in the Ealing area of London, U.K., on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The store, like its U.S. counterparts, will use an array of cameras and other sensors to track shoppers as they pull items off the shelves, and charges a credit card on file after they exit. (Hollie Adams/Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- Inc. could face a formal investigation in the UK if it does not improve its treatment of suppliers, according to the country’s grocery regulator. 

Fewer than half of Amazon’s suppliers who responded to an annual survey by the Groceries Code Adjudicator believe that the online retailer consistently or mostly complies with the watchdog’s code of practice.

Amazon came last out of 14 retailers subject to the code, with a compliance score of 47%, down 12 percentage points from a year earlier. That compares with 98% for Co-op, which topped the latest list.

“The survey shows clearly that many suppliers do not believe that Amazon is complying with the code,” said Mark White, the Groceries Code Adjudicator, in a statement. “I will not hesitate to launch a formal investigation if appropriate and necessary to ensure Amazon is treating its suppliers fairly and lawfully.”

The regulator’s code obliges retailers to pay suppliers on time and provide compensation for forecasting errors, among other commitments.

Amazon said it’s already taken steps to improve supplier relations and plans further changes, including quicker resolution of financial disputes.

“We are very disappointed by these results and we are committed to improving them,” the retailer said in an emailed statement.

(Updates with Amazon comment)

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