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Loblaw agrees to sign grocery code of conduct — but only if competitors do, too

Loblaw Companies Ltd. said Thursday it's ready to sign on to the grocery code of conduct, paving the way for an agreement that's been years in the making.

After six months of negotiations, Loblaw president and CEO Per Bank said the retailer is now ready to sign as long as other industry players do too.

«The code now is fair, and it will not lead to higher prices,» he said in an interview.

The code has been developed by a group of leaders in the food industry, with the intention of levelling the playing field for suppliers and smaller retailers.

But it appeared to come to a halt last December when Loblaw and Walmart Canada said they wouldn't sign the voluntary code because they were concerned it would raise prices for shoppers.

Nick Henn, Loblaw's chief legal officer, said the underlying principles of the code haven't changed.

«We felt that the words weren't clear in lots of areas, and so we've spent some time with the working committee and the interim board, fixing those areas, improving the code and providing the clarity that we thought it lacked the last time around,» he said in the same interview alongside Bank.

One important example was regarding the dispute resolution process, Henn said. Loblaw wanted to make clear when it would be appropriate for issues to go to an adjudicator, and when it wouldn't, such as in the case of price negotiations between suppliers and retailers.

«That was a big concern for us. And so with that no longer being an issue under the draft code, we're much less concerned about the code leading to higher prices,» Henn said.

June 1, 2025, is the target date for the code to take effect, he said.

«We've worked very hard to get to where we are,» said Michael Graydon, CEO of the Food, Health and Consumer

Read more on cbc.ca