Retail trade team to resolve disputes

shopper supermarket
There are plans to form a committee that will intervene in disputes between supermarkets and suppliers. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Plans are under way to establish a retail trade committee that will act as a dispute resolution body in the sector riddled with rows amid efforts to empower suppliers.

Under a new deal signed by retail firm representatives and their suppliers last Thursday, the new body will consist of seven people — two nominated by the Retail Traders Association of Kenya (RTAK), two by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Association of Kenya Suppliers.

One member of the committee will also be selected from SMEs that supply goods to Kenya’s key retail sector.

“Pursuant to the retail trade regulations, a Retail Trade Dispute Settlement Committee shall be established. The committee shall act as the dispute resolution body for all disputes arising under this code,” said Trade principal secretary Chris Kiptoo who was present at the signing of the code last week.

One nominee on the body will be from the Council of Governors while the seventh will be a Ministry of Trade appointee.

“The committee’s decision shall be by consensus and binding on all the parties to the dispute before it,” said Mr Kiptoo.

Along with Competition Authority of Kenya’s (CAK) new Buyer Power Department, the pact signed is expected to guard against Kenyan retailers engaging in unfair trading practices as has been the case in the past.

Stellah Onyancha, director, competition and consumer protection at the competition watchdog, lauded the move while promising CAK’s support to the new committee.

“We pledge to work together with the committee which is coming into force at a time when the retail sector has come under pressure, necessitating a proactive intervention by all concerned parties, including the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Corporative,” she said.

While the dispute resolution team is meant to be an initial forum for redress rows arising out of the new code, supermarkets and suppliers can still seek recourse from the Judiciary.