FWD welcomes ombudsman pledge

The FWD has welcomed the announcement by the Government that it will set up a grocery market ombudsman.

Consumer minister Kevin Brennan announced that he has accepted the Competition Commission’s recommendation for a body to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP).

The Code of Practice comes into force on February 4 and this will be followed by a consultation, beginning later in the month, on how best to enforce the GSCOP, including who that body might be and the powers it could have.

He said: “The revised Grocery Supply Code of Practice is a great improvement on the current regime. However, the power that large grocery retailers remain able to wield over their suppliers can still create pressures on small producers, especially in these difficult economic times, which ultimately may impact on consumers.

“Free and fair competition is the key to a healthy market and it is right that there should be an enforcement body to make sure that consumers are getting the best value for money.”

FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “The establishment of an ombudsman is something we called for both during and after the Commission’s investigation into abuses of power by supermarkets.

“The need for an ombudsman is clear. It is tough for wholesalers to compete on price in the face of abuse of suppliers by the multiple supermarkets identified by the Competition Commission inquiry. A strong ombudsman is needed to enforce an effective code of practice to prevent this abuse.”

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