Comet to charge suppliers for shelf space

27 01 2009
kesa-electricals-cometAccording to the Financial Times, electronics retailer Kesa, who owns Comet, has asked its suppliers to pay up to £15,000 for the pleasure of having just one of their product lines displayed on Comet’s shelves. Why? Well, according to Comet’s commercial director Bob Darke, its because of the tough economic times.
  
Comet must be stocking 100s if not 1000s of products. Do they really think that all the suppliers will pay a huge fee for each and every product displayed? They would have to sell hundreds of units of each product range just to make up this fee, let alone pay their direct and indirect costs. This would be a great strategy if (a) the economy was booming and (b) the amount of product ranges out stripped the amount of shelf space available. It would allow Comet to stock the most profitable product and earn a nice fee at the same time. Sadly though, the economy is not booming nor is it likely that suppliers are dying to have their products displayed on Comet’s shelves. Suppliers may in fact be forced to increase their prices to meet this fee otherwise it would add to the heavy losses that they already would be suffering from or they might even have to withdraw their product ranges entirely.
 
In an economy which is officially in a recession, increasing one’s prices is not exactly the best strategy. Everyday there are news of more and more job cuts. Even those who have jobs are spending less because they are worried that they might lose their jobs. At such times, consumers are likely to focus more on necessities and forget about the luxuries. And plasma tvs and mp3 players are not exactly as important as bread and milk such that people will be forced to buy them.
  
Kesa is not alone, almost all retailers are affected by the tough economic times. Many supermarkets deal with it by squeezing every last penny out of their supplier’s profit margins. Others buy on credit and exert their purchasing power by paying their suppliers after a long time. The supplier has no choice, he has to either accept it or lose the order. But I dont think anybody, not lest at this time, would charge their suppliers for shelf space.
I think Kesa’s move is akin to digging one’s own grave. It might as well just hand over its market share on a silver platter to its rivals.

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