Younus Sheikh, MD of wholesaler Bestway, has greeted the Competition Commission's inquiry into grocery with scepticism and delivered a rallying call to independents, urging them to build closer ties with their communities.

Sheikh, who was speaking at the Bestway Retailer Development Awards, said he feared that little would be gained by another investigation - the third in seven years - despite the dire need for a level playing field.

"Each year, I try to think of something different to say to you, but yet again I look around and find the authorities are still investigating the grip on the high street by the ever-increasing march of the multiples. " Sheikh also said the multiples were creating a superficial PR image that consumers would ultimately reject.

He said: "The multiples claim to be listening, but really they are dressing things up to make themselves appear that they are more concerned about green issues or about caring for the community.

"The consumer is far from stupid. If the major supermarkets go on devouring everything in their path, by playing tricks with planning permissions and the like, consumers will see through it all and rebel."

Sheikh said that focusing on consumer needs and building community ties were the most crucial concerns for independents.

He highlighted the efforts of sisters Claire and Hannah Blount, of Claire & Hannahs in Doncaster, who scooped a special community prize at the awards for their efforts to raise money for a local charity and provide personalised shopping and delivery options for their customers.

The top prize, national retailer of the year, was awarded to Kashif Afza of Safebury's Store, Edgbaston, Birmingham, who collected £10,000, the Bestway Trophy and a certificate presented by Bestway chairman Sir Anwar Pervez.

Prizes worth £70,000 were awarded in the Bestway Retailer Development Awards, which recognise retailers that have improved their businesses after attending Bestway development seminars.