Wholesalers step up fight for grocery market justice

Wholesalers have vowed to keep up their pressure on the Competition Commission after it revealed its ’emerging thinking’ in its inquiry into the UK grocery market.

Representatives of wholesalers and the independent retail sector want the commission to recognise that the big supermarket groups are using their buying power to force suppliers to give them an unfair advantage. But the commission said it had found no evidence of unfair price differentials.

Parfetts Cash Carry managing director Steve Parfett, who was on an FWD delegation that gave evidence to the commission, said: “They don’t seem to have found any evidence. Our perception is that the problem has got worse since the last inquiry in 2000, but they are saying it appears to have improved. To us this is just unbelieveable and incomprehensible.”

He said the commission appeared to acknowledge a problem in obtaining enough pricing information from suppliers, but he added: “We don’t understand how they have failed to get the information from suppliers when they have the powers to compel people to give evidence.”

He added: “One of the points for optimism is that it is emerging thinking and we still have a chance to ask them to take another look. We will work even harder to get our case across.”

FWD director general John Murphy said the federation would be responding to the commission’s report next week.

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