Local shops have welcomed the announcement that the Government will support the Competition Commission’s recommendation to introduce a grocery ombudsman.
The new regulator will be charged with investigating abusive trading practices and arbitrating disputes between supermarkets and suppliers.
Association of Convenience Stores’ (ACS) chief executive James Lowman called the decision a “victory for common sense” and stressed that ACS will seek to help the Government to act quickly to put in place this “vitally important safeguard of consumer interests”.
Following the introduction of a new code of practice on February 4 2010 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills be consulting on the powers and structure of the new ombudsman.
Last week the Conservative Party also revealed its support for the introduction of a grocery ombudsman.
Lowman said: “Political support for action has been hard fought, now there is a consensus action is needed to make this happen quickly and to end the negative effects of harmful buying practices.
“When we met with [consumer minister] Kevin Brennan, we made it clear that the creation of a regulator as defined by the Competition Commission is the proportionate response to protect consumer interests and will not impede the ability for retailers to continue to compete.
“We also urged the minister to stick closely to the parameters of the scheme developed by the Competition Commission, thereby ensuring that the regulator is efficient, independent and proactive.
The ACS has campaigned for action to address the consumer harm created by unfair competition in the grocery market for a number of years and has been pressing for the implementation of an ombudsman since the recommendation of the Competition Commission in May 2008.