Unilever to sign PPC despite 90-day payment timetable

The Forum of Private Business has urged a rethink of the admission criteria for the Prompt Payment Code after it emerged Unilever is set to sign the agreement – despite its policy of paying suppliers up to 90 days after invoicing.

The Prompt Payment Code (PPC) is an ICM initiative which aims to encourage quicker payment of invoices by making signatories undertake to always pay within the time agreed and to give clear guidance on terms. Sainsbury’s has also indicated its intention to join the Code, despite extending its payment timetable from 30 to 75 days in October 2012.

Under the current admission criteria, there is no upper limit for payment timetables, and both companies are technically eligible to join the code. The Forum said however that the excessive payment times practiced by Sainsbury’s and Unilever are undermining the spirit of the PPC and the companies should be barred from joining.

Phil Orford, Chief Executive of the Forum, said: “We feel big businesses are cynically using the Prompt Payment Code to boast of their ethical credentials to the wider public, when in fact they are anything but to their suppliers. No one in their right mind can think Unilever’s 90-day payment terms are ‘prompt’, so why should they be allowed to sign the Prompt Payment Code. It’s a ridiculous situation which has to stop.

Companies like Unilever and Sainsbury’s are hoodwinking the public for their own PR purposes by signing, while the small firms who supply them see absolutely no change to cripplingly long payment times.”