From Nick Goulding, chief executive, Forum of Private Business

SIR; We are demanding that the government launches an inquiry into supermarkets’ monopoly of the retail market following the opening of Tesco’s first non-food store - Tesco Homeplus - in Manchester last week (The Grocer, October 1, p8).
The government can no longer turn a blind eye to the crisis on the British high street which has lost 20,000 independent shops since 1997 at a rate of 50-a-week.
The supermarkets’ - and in particular Tesco’s - dominance of retail trade is a catastrophe for the high street right here and right now in virtually every town in Britain.
The government needs to wake up and see the crisis affecting small businesses. The move by Tesco to launch its first non-food store will immediately imperil independent clothes, hardware, home furnishing and electrical shops.
To protect these businesses’ livelihoods there needs to be another Competition Commission inquiry. But unlike the last one, in 2000, it needs to pack a punch on behalf of private firms.
Another inert, toothless whitewash cannot and must not be accepted. With Tesco sitting on 185 development sites and 30 new Tesco supermarkets due to open by early 2006, there is an urgent need to control the supermarkets’ sinister and destructive empire building.

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