Suppliers and independent retailers have launched a last ditch attempt to uncover the evidence needed to prove growing supermarket power is damaging competition and limiting consumer choice.
With the OFT’s May 31 deadline for the submission of proof fast approaching, the Association of Convenience Stores and the National Farmers’ Union have written to members asking for examples of potential breaches of the supermarkets code of practice.
The NFU letter explains that it has been invited by the OFT to build up a dossier of alleged breaches of the code on behalf of members who are direct suppliers to the supermarkets.
It has given members until May 16 to give their response to 11 specific points.
NFU food chain adviser Emma Holyfield said: “Given the interest we have already from our members, we are confident that this represents a great chance for us to make a weighty response.”
The ACS has asked for retailers to help in finding evidence of below-cost selling, along with barriers for retailer entry into the c-store sector and the impact of superstores on the non-food market.
Communications director James Lowman said: “Retailers talk to us about having evidence, so it is crucial they take this opportunity.”
As part of this process, a senior director of a leading independent retailer is currently pressing the OFT for details of its probe into Yorkshire-based supermarket chain Proudfoot’s allegations against Tesco of anti-competitive behaviour.
The retailer, who has asked to remain anonymous, believes the case represents a breach of the code and has asked to see all relevant documents regarding the case under the Freedom of Information Act.
Ronan Hegarty & Rod Addy