DunnHumby’s new boss faces an uphill battle as soon as he joins with the supermarket watchdog – which works with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – set to launch an investigation into the data firm’s practices.
Frenchman Guillaume Bacuvier does not even get his feet under the table until May but no doubt his predecessor, Simon Hay, will be relieved he left in February now that Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) head Christine Tacon is sniffing around.
Founded in 2013, the GCA was given extra powers in March 2015 to fine supermarkets up to 1% of their annual turnover for breaches of the code. If found guilty, based on its latest turnover figures, Tesco could face a fine of over £559m, although the GCA has yet to dish out a single monetary penalty.
It is understood that concerns are twofold. First that DunnHumby customers get preferential deals with Tesco; secondly the soaring price of shopper insight gathered through Tesco Clubcard, which – it is claimed – often sees invoices top £1m a pop.
One supplier told the Evening Standard: “DunnHumby acts as a conduit between the supplier and the buyer, so it’s hard not to use them if you supply Tesco.” Meanwhile a spokeswoman for the GCA said it was “an issue that’s been on Christine’s radar and she is going to raise it with Tesco”.
Both DunnHumby and Tesco deny any wrong-doing.
The move comes as the supermarket giant has reported a fall in full-year pre-tax profit to £145m from £202m after it was fined for overstating its profits in 2014. It said it had taken a £235m charge after it agreed a deferred prosecution with the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority in March.
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