from Bryan Gray, CEO, NI Independent Retail Trade Association

Sir; The Joint Trade Association Forum, comprising trade associations in the UK, is calling for the Competition Commission to again examine the grocery market in the face of increased market consolidation by the dominant supermarket corporations.
We believe the UK grocery market should be subject to further investigation by the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission in the light of on-going consolidation in the grocery market.
The Competition Commission investigated the grocery market in 2000. But we consider that practices identified by the commission during that study as damaging to suppliers and independent retailers, and ultimately against the public interest, have been exacerbated by consolidation in the market since and yet action has not been taken to adequately deal with these issues.
The major multiples are beginning to become frustrated at the limited scope they now have for expansion in the supermarket sector and, as a result, they are turning attention to the high street and neighbourhood convenience format. The recent survey from the Association of Convenience Stores showed that 63% of people said this trend gave consumers less choice of where to shop and that the increase in superstore ownership of smaller local shops resulted in a less friendly and personal service.