Sir; Well done Baroness Peta Buscombe, Advertising Association chief executive, for securing a pledge from the government that bogofs and other "free" promotions will not fall foul of new consumer protection rules, as covered in your recent article (The Grocer, 3 May, p27).
"Free", according to the EU, should only be used to described samples and gifts that do not require more than the cost of a postage stamp or telephone call. But bogof has become a part of the British vernacular. People like it. They feel they are getting a bargain, and that is what is important. Everybody here understands what bogof means and have become attached to it. To suggest otherwise is patronising at best, daft and insidious at worst.
It is a small semantic step to "two for the price of one", which Brussels is okay with and, importantly, the same cost to the consumer.
So, congratulations to the Advertising Association for keeping Britain free from the meddling of pedants who don't speak our language or understand our shopping culture.
EU directive restricts description of offers Philip Circus Director for Legal Affairs, Institute of Sales Promotion
Sir; I was disappointed to read the comment: "The Institute of Sales Promotion had every one in a lather when it suggested new EU regulations would outlaw bogofs." (The Grocer, 3 May, p27).
The implication of this is that the ISP has stirred up an issue with little or no foundation. If that is so, one has to ask why, at a meeting of enforcement agencies throughout the EU, only the British took the view that the wording in the directive allowed bogofs. We also understand that the consumer ombudsmen from Finland and Sweden have demanded that the wording of the directive should be interpreted in a way that would prevent the use of the word "free" in relation to free gifts with purchases and bogofs in the UK. They have said the EC should take legal action to enforce this, or their own governments will consider taking action.
We all agree that the new legislation does not outlaw free gifts with purchases, but the ISP believes the strict letter of the law prevents them being described as free. Accordingly, a bogof would have to be described as "two for the price of one".
The ISP believes that the strict wording of the directive limits the use of the word "free" in the way that it is already restricted throughout most of the EU. However, we are prepared to accept the view that until legal action is taken to prevent the use of the word "free" in relation to bogofs and free gifts with purchases, we should continue to use it.
Multiples can ignore local spending power Alan Hallsworth Professor emeritus/reader in retailing, University of Surrey
Sir; In the groceries market investigation, the Competition Commission presents odd deliberations - wisely contested by Tesco - on the minimum population needed to support a store. The Huntly case is clearly one where two powerful retailers have decided to contest a market, rendering the local population irrelevant.
Consider, instead, if two individual entrepreneurs planned to build such a store from scratch, relying only on local spending power to support the building and running costs. One doubts they would proceed. Asda and Tesco, however, have huge assets with which to compete in a particular location should they so choose.
The commission needs to do better than to infer from the presence of such giants that small populations can support large stores. The previous lack of a needs test in Scotland means it is no surprise that tiny, but over-stored, towns are found there.
Finger pointing will strain industry trust James Spittle Chairman, GS1 UK
Sir; In response to your opening comments and subsequent interview with Peter Freeman, chairman of the Competition Commission (The Grocer, 3 May, p3 & p24) is it not time for the finger pointing and blame game to be put to bed in order to limit further negative impact on the grocery trade?
The industry is facing a tough year in the wake of the credit crunch and rising commodity prices. To continue this battle can only add further strain and weaken trust between retailers, suppliers and consumers. We have to accept the "not guilty" verdict and concentrate on the positives that have come from the report.
The Grocery Supply Code of Practice has formalised best practice and due diligence already honoured by many retailers. Although to some extent the code is stating the obvious, it is at least going some way to redress the balance of power in the complex relationships between retailers and their suppliers.
Collaboration and openness are crucial for the retail and supply community to maximise benefits for all their stakeholders. If these partnerships are more efficient then they can be more responsive to the needs of the consumer and, in turn, more profitable at a time when competition is at its fiercest. Thus, to coin Peter Freeman's phrase, a vicious circle becomes a virtuous one.