Convenience retailers have been told they must put more pressure on the Competition Commission to scrap its two-market definition to stop the major supermarket chains forcing smaller operators out of business.
Addressing a group of leading independent retailers from The Grocer Top 50, David Simons,
Littlewoods chairman, said independents needed to stand up to the increasingly powerful and dominant multiples, particularly as they moved into the convenience sector.
He described the Competition Commission’s decision to term convenience as a different sector of food shopping as “bizarre”.
He said: “It seems that no-one is putting up a fight to say, actually, the government has got this one wrong. You can get them to think again - if you put your heads together you could make quite a lot of progress on that. People talk about the death of the high street but there is another way of looking at it. The high street is being renamed - it is called Tesco. If you allow that to happen it will. It is up to you whether you fight it.”
In the newly competitive environment, he advised retailers to concentrate on increasing their fresh and ready meals offer and avoid trying to compete on price.
“Anyone who tries to make price the battle will lose - that is one area where you cannot compete with the likes of Tesco and Asda. But with your customer base, you probably do not need to. Focus on the things the supermarkets cannot do well - they cannot think local.”
>> p38 The Grocer Top 50
Amy Balchin