Matalan in dispute over suppliers

The Forum of Private Business, which represents 25,000 small businesses, is considering taking legal action against Matalan in a dispute over the discount retailer’s changing payment terms to its suppliers.Last November Matalan demanded a mandatory 2 per cent discount from suppliers to help compensate for tricky trading conditions. A scheduled meeting between the FPB and John King, Matalan’s chief executive, to discuss the issue failed to take place earlier this month and now Nick Goulding, the FPB’s chief executive, says the group is considering taking legal action to reverse Matalan’s decision.

He claims that in unilaterally changing its supplier terms, Matalan has contravened the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. Goulding plans to bring up the issue of retailers’ payment practices when he meets Margaret Hodge, the minister responsible for small firms, at the Department of Trade & Industry tomorrow. “If there is sufficient stomach for it, then there are legal avenues we will go down,” said Goulding, who added that retailers have a habit of changing supplier terms when it suits them.

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