Sir; Imagine the scene: we are in the Office of Fair Trading in London’s Salisbury Square.
To the left is the office of the team that is overseeing the new code of practice to curb the power of the superstores, including Tesco.
To the right is the office of the team that will rubber-stamp the acquisition of the Adminstore c-store group by Tesco.
Is this an everyday story of schizophrenia or a farce? No - it is the brutal truth. On the one hand the OFT bends at the knee to give more power to Tesco by adhering to the ‘25% of goods and services’ rule in the specific c-store sector rather than measuring the market as one
entity, as promoted in The Grocer (Opinion, Jan 24, p30).
On the other hand, the OFT is setting out to curb Tesco’s power with the code, a legal instrument. Thus one office cancels out the other, leaving Tesco the winner.
More muddle emerges from the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry, whose two cultures clash.
Surely only one of these departments should be responsible for policing the balance between small shop and superstore? Independent retailers are sacrificed on the altar of this chaos.
The answer is a moratorium on further c-store acquisitions by superstores. It would not impede trade or be harmful in any way.