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Max Blogs... Just How “Corrupt” Is Our Sector.....?

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Max Blogs... Just How “Corrupt” Is Our Sector.....?

Hi - hope you enjoyed the short week (if you were not working through it) and hopefully we will see the weather pick up as we race towards the "huge" summer of 2012.

We have a clever piece of software in our business that allows us to see who is on our site in real time and what you are all looking at. When our newsfeed went out last Friday, the number of hits we were gaining for the CORRUPT JS BUYER article was huge. It was the highest hit rate yet for any news story we have run. The number of people who also emailed the article on to contacts was unprecedented as well. You can get a feel of the opinion of our readership on the COMMENT SECTION. Why were so many contacts of Redfox reading the article? Well the salacious details of the case are frankly staggering. For a supermarket buyer who was probably on £60-70ishk as an annual salary, to allegedly spend £250,000 at the Monaco Grand Prix, £200,000 on a short stay at Claridges, have a host of flash cars, a pair of handmade Purdy shotguns, a new conservatory etc etc....and all allegedly of can see why the redtops and broadsheets ran with it.

The best quote we had from a client goes as follows; "He had a great business model...till he got caught..." I’m not sure if that is hugely funny or just very black humour. The psychology of the case in itself is so intriguing. If the case for the prosecution is proved, did the “buyer” think he was just going to get away with it? Did he think he was entitled to these riches? Was he deferring himself to some sort of god status as a supermarket buyer? And how rife is this practice today? You tell me...but we don't need this form of negative publicity in any shape or form. Unfortunately there are two more fraud cases that we are aware of that are due to hit the courts for the fresh sector before years end, so the end is not in sight.

Post the “potato” case being revealed, the retailer in question has apparently run internal audits and has put in full controls combing new checks and balances to stop a “rogue” individual profiteering to such an extent again. You have to feel sympathy for the supplier in question as it appears to be a small number of unscrupulous individuals within their business who aided and abetted the retail buyer for their own personal gains. With the level of damaging PR that will be rolling out re the retailer in the coming weeks, you hope that they won’t look to “throw out the trash” and delist the supplier as some form of knee jerk reaction in an attempt to gain positive PR from the situation. Even more so as the supplier went through the business immediately to remove the “cancer” of such corrupt employees. Let’s see…

Having asked around as to what level of corruption could be present, there are allegedly a few cases of individuals asking for…or being offered the likes of new cars to give/gain business, but nothing to the extent of what is going through the courts currently. So hopefully this is not the tip of the iceberg and is just a very unusual and one off case by a very small minority of hugely unscrupulous and greedy people. The instigation of the BRIBERY & CORRUPTION ACT may help as it does appear to have bite to it.

What are your views? Have you seen or are you aware of corruption/bribery in the sector? Use the comment section below to voice your comments either named or an anonymous basis as we would be keen to hear your views.

As an aside, we look forward to seeing you at the Re:Fresh EVENT on the 17th in London. We are on Stand 1 and have a Jeroboam of Champagne to give away to one lucky delegate!

Do you agree or have any comments on what Max’s blogs? If so use the comment section below….

Max MacGillivray is the founder and MD of Redfox. You can view his profile on LINKED IN and if you are looking for any assistance for Recruitment and Training for your business please contact Max and the Redfox team on +44 (0)1284 715055 or email

Visit Redfox for the latest Fresh Produce News & Agri-Business News and Jobs and Training

Category: Fresh Produce, Agri-Business, Blogs From Max2 CommentsEmail to a friend

I am surprised at the 'feigned shock' response to this story. No one who has a current business with the Majors will become 'Whistle Blowers' and commit financial suicide! However, the idea that a 'Hospitality Pot' utilised to wine and dine the most influential Supermarket Elite is not a common thing is absurd. Of course, there is a fine line between acceptable hospitality and corruption. Cash payments to buyers, or provision of material assets is corruption! But can we say that lavish hospitality provided at sporting events with first class international travel provided, and exotic cars given as 'hire cars' is really acceptable hospitality? Would they be a acceptable if given to MP's? Why should they be acceptable if given to officers of public companies? Decisions for years as to who which suppliers are given programmes have been made on the basis of personalities with the most generous and deep pockets and very little to do with quality and performance. One has only to look at the generally atrocious quality of produce provided to stores by certain sectors of the supply base to prove this point. Why hasnt this scandal been exposed before for what it is? Simple - existing suppliers are too scared to 'blow the whistle'. De-listed suppliers may be accused of suffering the 'sour grape' syndrome. (Apologies for the pun - but how appropriate?) And - the biggest point - what Newspaper or Commercial TV station would dare expose its biggest paying advertising customers? One day the truth will emerge of the 'Misery Behind the Millions' - the poor and starving populations in third world countries who have been the growers behind the suppliers who have lost out due to a fickle whim of a 'new buyer' or one directed by a boss who has enjoyed Champagne and Caviar' at Ascot recently!

The JS buyer unlucky enough to get caught by overstepping the mark may well be written off as the Fruit Trade equivalent of a 'Rogue Reporter'. That would be sad. Lets hope that a Leveson Inquiry will soon loom for all of these obnoxious arrogant individuals who have abused power! Past and present!
Posted by Colin Massey on Friday the 11 of May, 2012 at 12:55pm
It will be interesting if this case of JS buyer is traced back to the Category Management time when tenders were put out. MBM potatoes were victims of the review, and their demise from this is for all to see. If so there could be follow up proceedings if MBM challenge. Remember this buyer was overseeing the Tender and his dicision was vital to winning the business?
Posted by Richard Kitchen on Friday the 11 of May, 2012 at 12:33pm

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