Needs aren't met by supermarkets alone

Jerry Marwood Managing director, Spar UK and chairman of the Association of Convenience Stores

Sir; The Competition Commission has made a conscious attempt to be balanced. There is a serious competition problem in the market, but we can take reassurance from the fact that the report shows the commission will go further in its investigation into the relationship between supermarkets and suppliers. However, we still need to remain cautious. We have some concerns about the extent of the commission's evidence gathering in some key areas, in particular the confusing analysis of the trend in convenience store numbers in the UK. On planning issues, there is likely to be a debate on the effect of land banking and other land controls such as restrictive covenants by the major multiples on local competition. It would be wrong of the commission to conclude that consumers' needs are met by supermarkets alone. Through the Association of Convenience Stores we are able to collaborate on significant political and economic issues. And, in situations like this, it is important to remember that we speak on behalf of the many small independent businesses that are not able to speak on their own. Convenience is growing and we want to promote fair competition in our market. The ACS is the voice of the independent retail sector and a forceful, balanced and credible voice for local shops in government and politics at all levels. It is our job to ensure those decision makers are convinced about the value that local stores bring to the economy of the communities they serve. We will continue to provide every support we can to the commission.