Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Competition Commission finally gets tough.

The Competition Commission has been forced to issue subpoenas to a raft of retail industry trade bodies in a desperate attempt to secure evidence in its drawn-out probe into the supermarket sector. The rare move highlights just how difficult the commission has found it to gather information in its investigation. The trade bodies, most of which consist of suppliers to the "big four" grocers, are believed to have been reluctant to come forward with evidence lest they upset the supermarkets with whom they do business.
Peter Freeman, the commission's chairman, has already pushed back the publication of the anti-trust body's provisional findings from next month to September due to the volume of work involved. This latest move highlights just how sensitive the issues surrounding retailer-supplier relations are. The commission sent legally binding Section 109 letters to a "small number" of trade bodies last week, a spokesman confirmed. Under the Enterprise Act, the letters require the organisations to submit information they have regarding their members' relationship with retailers. "This is not something we do lightly. But it gets to a point when you believe that there is relevant information that you haven't been able to get. The information we are after relates to a full range of supplier issues," said the spokesman.
The Food & Drink Federation is believed to be among the bodies that have received the letters. However, the National Farmers' Union is not.