Christine Tacon has been appointed to the newly-created role of independent Groceries Code Adjudicator - already dubbed 'supermarket ombudsman'.
Ms Tacon has a strong commercial background having headed the Co-operative Group's farming business for 11 years, turning the £60m turnover business from a £6m loss to a £6m profit.
Ms Tacon will be responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which regulates interactions between the 10 largest supermarkets and their direct suppliers.
The Adjudicator will be able to arbitrate disputes between retailers and suppliers, as well as launch investigations in response to confidential complaints from direct and indirect suppliers, or from any source, whether in the UK or overseas.
If the Adjudicator finds that a retailer has breached the Groceries Code then the Adjudicator would have wide ranging powers to effect remedies such as:
- issuing recommendations to solve the dispute
- naming and shaming the offenders by publishing information
- impose fines if the Adjudicator considers the breach serious enough
In response to her appointment, Ms Tacon said: "Being the Groceries Code Adjudicator is a significant responsibility, and I am honoured to have been given the chance to make a permanent and enduring difference to the groceries sector."
"Coming from a commercial background, I am sure that if we can increase trust between retailers and their direct suppliers, it will lead to greater efficiency and can only have a beneficial impact on the rest of the supply chain."
Until the role is formally approved by Parliament, Ms Tacon will work one-day-a-week setting up her office, meeting stakeholders, and developing guidance for retailers and suppliers.