Independent retailers need a chance says ACS

The Association of Convenience Stores has called for fairness in the grocery market during its second formal hearing with the Competition Commission.

At the meeting on June 14, the ACS, accompanied by members of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, said more needed to be done to give independent retailers a chance to survive against supermarkets so consumers could “benefit from a competitive and diverse grocery market”.

ACS chief executive James Lowman, said: “We pressed the Commission to do more to analyse the distortions caused by the supermarkets’ buyer power on growth and competitiveness in the wider grocery market. The Competition Commission is now in no doubt that we strongly reject any view that competition in the grocery market is solely about choice between large format supermarkets. Individuals shop in different ways and a healthy and sustainable market provides consumers with diversity and choice.”

Independent drinks retailers and off-licence chains called for supermarkets to trade on an equal footing after the Commission’s emerging thinking - published in January - showed that alcohol was one product they were selling below cost.

The Commission will publish the provisional findings of its report into the groceries market in September with the final report due to be published in February 2008.