A “massive, high-profile investigation” into the power of supermarkets must be carried out over the next five years, a Commons committee warned the OFT this week.
Revelations that OFT chief executive John Fingleton was forced to appear before the Commons Public Accounts Committee was heralded as a victory by those lobbying for a review of supermarkets.
At the meeting on Wednesday (January 18), Fingleton was forced to defend the agency against accusations of being too slow in its investigations and not using powers effectively to make more decisions on anti-competitive behaviour.
The ACS welcomed the committee’s call for action. Public affairs manager James Lowman said: “It shows they’re reflecting the public concern, not just their own. We need the OFT to refer the market to the Competition Commission now.”
A spokesman for the Forum of Private Business said the “rap across the knuckles” was well deserved. “A supermarket inquiry, the case for which is irrefutable, should be ordered as a matter of urgency.”
FWD director general John Murphy said: “We want this review in five months, not five years’ time.”
Meanwhile, The Grocer has learned that the OFT has begun sending out questionnaires to supermarkets in its first efforts to gain a handle on the market as it looks at whether to refer the sector for a full review.
Unilever is investing £500,000 in Partners for Growth this year. The programme offers category advice to the convenience sector. A ninth category, meal enhancers, such as mayonnaise, is being added.

Tesco has been accused of trying to “justify the unjustifiable” by Steve Parfett, MD of Stockport-based C&C Parfetts, after it put in a retrospective application for its Stockport store, which turned out to be 20,000 sq ft bigger than had been agreed.

Northern Foods has vowed to continue its long-running battle over the status of the Melton Mowbray pork pie. The company said that it would appeal against a High Court ruling last month that failed to stop Defra applying for PGI status from Brussels.

Investment company Close Brothers Growth Capital is backing a management buy-in of own-label sugar confectionery manufacturer Toms Confectionery from Toms Gruppen of Denmark.

Wincanton tanker drivers who deliver to Tesco forecourts in the south have voted on a two-day strike next week. The 140 T&G members will strike on Wednesday and Thursday following a job transfer dispute. When TGD takes over the Tesco contract from Wincanton, the union claims workers’ term and conditions may not be honoured.

The specialist trade body The Wholesale Confectionery & Tobacco Alliance has announced that it will cease operations from March 31. The WCTA has 120 members, many belonging to one of three buying groups - Sugro, Key Lekkerland and Confex.
Rachel Barnes
partnership boost
Pie appeal
buy-in backed
forecourt strike
end of the affair