Fruit and veg supplier sues Lidl for £2.7m for 'destroying his business'
A supplier of fruit and vegetables is suing supermarket giant Lidl for £2.7m for "destroying" his business.
Deane Proctor, 57, the founder of Proctor and Associates, a wholesaler in Boston, Lincolnshire, claimed he was forced to close his business because Lidl "stabbed him in the back".
He has filed a claim at the High Court accusing the German supermarket chain of cancelling or reducing orders at short notice and poaching his own suppliers.
A Lidl spokeswoman told Yahoo News UK: "We are in the process of reviewing the claims and will be responding in due course."
Proctor said he built a close relationship with Lidl over 20 years but that the company dropped his produce abruptly and cut him out of deals.
He set up his business in 2003 and says he helped Lidl find new suppliers in the UK for fruit and veg.
"There weren't many suppliers that wanted to deal with the discounters at the time," Proctor told the Mail on Sunday. "For a long time I helped to sell the idea of working with Lidl to the farmers."
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He said that at one stage his company was delivering produce worth almost £29m to Lidl per year.
However, he claimed that Lidl buyers were "closed off" towards him from 2015 onwards. He accused the supermarket of cutting its orders and dealing directly with his farmers without his knowledge.
He said: "Here's me thinking the challenge is to be more efficient, to invest in the business.
"I tried to do all of the right things. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back."
In a separate interview, he told The Guardian last month: “I think over the last eight years or so Lidl have destroyed our business."
Proctor said his business relationship with Lidl ended last June and his company has been forced to close. He is suing Lidl for £2.7m in damages.
The legal action accuses Lidl of breaching the Groceries Supplies Code of Practice, which are overseen by the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).
A GCA survey of about 2,500 UK suppliers published last June revealed that Lidl was the worst ranked of 11 retailers.