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News - 27 October 2007

Can supermarkets and independent stores thrive in harmony?

As the retail industry awaits the results of the Competition Commission's ongoing inquiry into the grocery sector the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for action to level the playing field.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for free and fair competition and fears the Commission will be swayed by large supermarket chains into doing nothing.

Tactics such as selling an item priced below the cost of production, bullying of small suppliers and paying them late, property speculation through land banks combined with other factors such as spiralling high street parking charges are creating a very difficult situation for the independent trader.

An all-party group of MPs recently estimated that by 2015 there will be no independent retailers on the high street because of the unfair competition that they face from the supermarkets. This will reduce competition and consumer choice if shoppers are only able to buy what the supermarkets offer them.

The initial findings of the Competition Commission's inquiry are expected to be published in the coming week.

John Wright, FSB National Chairman, said, "This is our last chance to preserve a truly competitive grocery market and defend the nation's much-loved high streets. We hope that the Competition Commission will stand up for the interests of consumers over those of big business. Small businesses are not asking for special treatment, just fair treatment, something that they have been denied for a long time in the grocery market.

"Fierce competition between the Big Four supermarkets is not full and fair competition across the board and the loss of more independent traders would further reduce consumer choice.

"This is the third inquiry into supermarkets in seven years. Small and independent retailers are hoping that it will be third time lucky when the interim report is published shortly."


Read related items on:
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Federation of Small Businesses
Wright, John


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