The Competition Commission Remedies Statement issued last week has provoked a massive wave of criticism from representatives of the neighbourhood store sector.
They argued the Commission had missed the opportunity to correct a major fault in its last analysis of the supermarket sector three years ago when it decided there were two distinct markets ­ one stop at larger stores and top up at convenience stores.
As representatives of the four potential bidders for Safeway met with the inquiry team this week, leaders of the neighbourhood store sector were making their submissions.
In this week's Saturday Essay, Big Food Group chief executive office Bill Grimsey says the decline in independent stores is clearly related to the pressure from out-of-town superstores and to argue they are separate markets is "ludicrous".
And FWD director general Alan Toft has also protested that the OFT was forced to use the "erroneous" definition when it investigated Tesco's bid for T&S, and this meant it mistakenly allowed the takeover.
Musgrave UK executive chairman Eoin McGettigan said he had written to the Commission to stress defining the market by outlet size ­ c-store or main store ­ rather than by share of the shopper's purse involved making crude, artificial distinctions that shoppers themselves did not make. "These are not discrete marketplaces."
However, McGettigan said he was pleased the Commission had recognised that the code of practice had not helped suppliers or smaller retailers curb the power of the multiples.
>>p26 Letters, p28 Saturday Essay

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