Chief of the week: Angela Mount

This week’s Chief of the Week is former Somerfield head wine buyer Angela Mount for having the guts to stand up, stick her head about the parapet and tell the world what it is really like to be at the sharp end as a supermarket buyer when the s**t hits the fan. 

Mount was speaking out this week on in response to the revelations that have spun out in to the national press about retailers calling on suppliers to plug profits back in the wake of the Tesco £250m accounting furore.

How retailers treat their suppliers has been the subject of considerable negative coverage across the media. So well played to Mount for deciding to reveal the kind of pressures that supermarket buyers are also under in such difficult times.

So often billed as the bad guy in multiple/supplier relations Mount has this week revealed the true life of a supermarket buyer. With the very clear caveat that she is talking about her own experiences whilst working under the pressures at Somerfield and not specifically about any of the current arrangement at Tesco or any of the other major multiples.

Mount, who was head wine buyer at the now defunct retailer when it issued a profits warning, said in her column on this week that s too easy for “beleaguered suppliers to blame retailers and individual buyers” when the going gets tough.

She added  buyers come under “enormous pressure” when the retailers they work for run into financial difficulties and are forced to redo forecasts and push suppliers for extra funding above and beyond existing deals.

She explained: “Buyers have their fingers burnt down to the bone tapping on their calculators. You’re just glued to your desk redoing forecasts, over and over again, working out how you’re going to claw the deficit back. If the numbers are short, the message that comes from above is, ‘we need to bring in more’.

She added: “The pressure on buyers is enormous at any company facing a difficult year-end, and each buyer is tasked with bringing in a certain extra amount each week. It was one of the many factors that finally made me decide to leave Somerfield. The message was ‘get the brands listed who are going to pay us money’.”

She even revealed that during Somerfield’s most difficult time the buyers got daily updates with a set amount they had to bring in every day, and were asked to “bring money forward from the next financial year” if need be. She told that:  “If you have to delist and bring in products that you will get more cash on, then do it.”

To read more of Mount’s comments click here (you must be a subscriber).

So let’s raise a glass to Angela Mount for speaking up for supermarket buyers, telling it how it is and pulling back the curtains just a little on how major supermakets have operated behind the scenes.

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