Government names and shames high street giant over late payments

The Government’s Small Business Commissioner Paul Uppal has named and shamed high street health food giant Holland & Barrett over their payment practices.

The high street chain is considered to be the biggest company to have been named and shamed to date for their culture of late payment.

The Commissioner, heard about the situation after a small IT business lodged a complaint with his office over an unpaid £15,000 invoice.

The agreed payment term for the invoice was 30 days. After the deadline lapsed, the IT business contacted Holland & Barrett and struggled to get the issue resolved, it was only after the Commissioner’s intervention that the payment was made 37 days late.

In his report on the matter, Paul Uppal detailed the chain’s refusal to cooperate, in particular the lack of reasoning on why there was, in fact, a delay, and highlighted the company’s silence following a request to the Holland & Barrett Chief Financial Officer to engage with the Commissioner on the publication of the report.

The Small Business Commissioner said: “Holland & Barrett’s refusal to cooperate with my investigation, as well as their published poor payment practices says to me that this is a company that doesn’t care about its suppliers or take prompt payment seriously.”

This is not the first time Holland & Barrett have been associated with a late payment culture, last year the Government identified the chain as one of the few retailers to take longer than 60 days to pay an invoice on average.

In the latest Government data, the high street chain has been found to still have a culture of late payment. On average, Holland & Barrett took 68 days to pay its invoices and 60 per cent of invoices were not paid within agreed terms.

Rachel Reeves MP, who leads the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s committee said: “These actions show that it is not only a parliamentary committee and the small business commissioner which Holland & Barrett hold in contempt but small businesses too.

“The behaviour of Holland & Barrett in these instances underlines the BEIS committee’s call for companies who flout the rules to not only be named and shamed but also subject to fines.”