The Office Fair Trading has announced that its proposed decision on whether to refer the grocery sector to the Competition Commission will be delayed.

In a statement the OFT said: “Following a month long consultation on its proposed decision to refer the market for the supply of groceries by retailers in the UK to the Competition Commission, which ended on April 6, the OFT is considering representations made by interested parties.”

It added: “Due to the large volume of responses received, the OFT is now expecting to reach a final decision on whether to refer in early May 2006 instead of the end of April.”

Last month the OFT revealed that it would recommend that the entire grocery sector should be investigated by the Competition Commission.

A number of leading industry association and companies have submitted representations to the OFT including the major multiples, the Association of Convenience Stores, the Federation of Wholesale Distributor's and the National Farmers' Union.