Guarded response to calls for curbs on supermarkets

The Government has given a cool response to the recommendations proposed by MPs to counter the growing power of the supermarkets.

The All Parliamentary Party Group for Small Shops last week warned that Britian's high street could be virtually wiped of small independent retailers in 10 years. It wants a ban slapped on mergers and acquisitions and calls on the Government to intervene so that large retailers cannot pressurise local planning decisions.

The Department of Trade and Industry, however, pointed out that competition in the grocery sector was a matter for the Competition Authorities, namely the OFT and Competition Commission, in accordance with The Enterprise Act 2002. The reply from the Office of Fair Trading was that it was looking at the report and any recommendations to the Competition Commission would be considered in due course.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was equally guarded. It said: "We will consider the report and respond appropriately in due course.

Jim Dowd, APPSS Group chairman, was sanguine in his response to the Government feedback. He said he hoped the DTI would reconsider its decision to not heed calls for a retail tsar. "We hope this report will change attitudes as we are highlighting a problem. We are not at war with the supermarkets or big groups."

He said that the APPSS Group were just warning of the likely collapse of the small shop by 2015 and what he claimed was the creation of clone towns - a process which is already well underway through the country - because of the complex monopoly in retail." Supermarkets appear to have no plans to bow to this criticism and instead are preparing for a new wave of expansion.

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