Competition minister Gerry Sutcliffe has confirmed that he is keeping close tabs on the raging debate surrounding the growing power of supermarkets.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton yesterday, Sutcliffe refused to deny weekend reports that he was going to initiate a new inquiry into the food retail sector, instead describing the stories as speculation.

He told the fringe meeting that he was interested in fair competition that provided consumers with choice.

However, he said more than once that there was “something wrong” in the food retail market and hinted that his department was prepared to do something about it.