The Competition Commission's provisional findings in the Groceries Inquiry made bleak reading for independent retailers.

Not only did the commission reject the notion that c-stores and wholesalers were in decline, it also said parts of Britain didn't have enough big supermarkets and suggested more should be built - even in out-of-town locations.

Tempers flared when commission chairman Peter Freeman said the wholesale sector couldn't be struggling too much if Bestway chairman Sir Anwar Pervez was in the Sunday Times Rich List.

The commission's assertion that c-store numbers were not in decline was based on three pieces of research - and two of these turned out to be highly controversial. ONS data suggested c-store numbers were on the up - but the figures excluded typically family-owned and run businesses. And Experian Goad looked only at c-store numbers in high streets and retail parks, but not in villages and suburbs. This, again, showed c-store numbers to be rising.

Though there was better news for independents in the commission's proposal to toughen up the Supermarkets Code of Practice, even that was bittersweet. The commission has suggested extending the code's reach to cover symbol groups and wholesalers, who fear suppliers will be more willing to take action against them under the code than against the big supermarket chains.

Independents are lobbying the commission to think again - and have presented new figures to back up their case. But changing the commission's mind at this late stage - its final report will be delivered in the spring - will be a tall order.