As the deadline for evidence of breaches of the supermarket code of practice passed this week, industry bodies had mixed views about the likelihood of a market review.
The OFT gave third parties until May 31 to submit further evidence that the multiples were failing to comply with the code after an audit in March concluded that supermarkets were working to the guidelines.
A spokeswoman for the OFT confirmed it had received a number of new submissions and said: “We are now considering these carefully so that we can decide on future action.” Timescales for action would not be set until the evidence had been fully reviewed, she added.
The Association of Convenience Stores said it hoped its evidence would bring about a market review, but the NFU admitted it had failed to come up with new evidence.
NFU Scotland said that suppliers feared reprisals and would only share information in strict confidentiality. It has called for an independent regulator to investigate anonymous complaints.
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors fears its offer to open up wholesalers’ books to prove that the market is unfair will be ignored. The OFT will not move to compare wholesalers’ cost prices with those obtained by the multiples if there is a market review.
Meanwhile, Musgrave Budgens-Londis trading director Barry Williams said Tesco and Sainsbury entering the convenience market had actually improved industry standards within the sector.
Fiona McLelland