The Association of Convenience Stores has issued a rallying call to all neighbourhood retailers to join forces in its fight to stave off the supermarkets’ march on the high street.
Following the blitz of media coverage of the release of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group’s High Street Britain: 2015 report last week, the ACS said that it was essential to now pile pressure on the industry’s regulators.
ACS chief executive David Rae admitted that hopes were now fading that the OFT would refer the grocery industry to the Competition Commission for a full market review.
Rae believed that OFT chief executive John Fingleton’s staunch defence of OFT decisions following the APPSSG report meant it was likely that another appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) would be necessary.
The OFT is due to publish a new decision in April but this week the ACS has launched the Community Shops Campaign Trust in readiness for a long-drawn out fight. It needs £665,000 to fund an appeal to CAT and to cover
costs of submissions to a Competition Commission review. It will be asking neighbourhood retailers to make a contribution of £5 per staff member.
Rae said: “I am sure that pharmacists, bakers, butchers and electrical stores feel just as threatened as the convenience sector as the supermarkets’ range moves more into non food, and that they will be willing to join the campaign.
“The fact that so many have joined the Independent Retailers Confederation suggests that there is a common cause and that the will is there to join our campaign for a fairer market.”
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation and Federation of Wholesale Distributors will be supporting the Trust, subject to board approval.
Meanwhile, an analyst who took part in a Tesco store visit in Cambridge said the company had indicated plans to open 100 Express stores each year from now on. The analyst believed that pace was sustainable for the next three years at least.
At that rate, Tesco could easily exceed its stated plan for 600 new Express stores by 2015.
Fiona McLelland & Rachel Barnes