Wholesalers offer to open up their books to the OFT

FWD members have offered to open up their books to the Office of Fair Trading to demonstrate the damaging and unfair difference in terms offered to them by suppliers compared with those obtained by the major supermarket groups.

The offer follows last month’s report by the OFT into the operation of the supermarket Code of Conduct.

After auditing the books of the big four supermarket groups, the OFT gave them a clean bill of health, but invited the industry to comment on its findings by May 31.

The director general of the FWD, Alan Toft, has now written to the OFT about the concerns of members regarding the difference in their terms compared with those obtained by the supermarkets.
In his letter, Toft said: “Your audit team will have had unprecedented access to terms enjoyed by the large superstores – terms which we believe discriminate against the wholesaler supplying local independent stores, family businesses and sole traders.

“We put at your disposal a number of wholesalers of different types who will provide access to the terms they receive.
“This would be a historic comparison which has never been previously attempted. It will provide the OFT, and we hope the Competition Commission, with fundamental information on costs which we have every reason to believe are aligned against the wholesaler.”

Toft told ProWholesaler that several FWD members of varying types and sizes had agreed to take part in the exercise.
The FWD’s offer is the latest move in its campaign pushing for a review of the grocery retail market by the Competition Commission.

It is seeking a moratorium on takeovers of other retailers by the superstore groups.

During this period it wants the Competition Commission to develop a new framework for the grocery market which would safeguard the interests of consumers and the independent retail sector when faced with the financial muscle of the major retailers.

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