17 March, 2006
The decision by the Office of Fair Trading to refer the supermarket industry to the Competition Commission is a victory for the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) and the All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group of MPs .
We believe the report, called High Street Britain 2015 and published last month, was the tipping point in the weight of evidence behind the referral. As chairman of the IRC, I urge bakers to be ready to give evidence; the Commission will need to hear from retailers in areas where the supermarkets have local dominance, where they have exceeded or ignored their planning permissions, or where they have used local predatory pricing to force local businesses to close.The Commission will also be looking at the supply side of their business. Again, this will be an opportunity for bakery suppliers to give evidence about the many kinds of pressure they are under – from working without a contract to having to support “Buy One Get One Free” promotions and store openings.As CEO of the National Association of Master Bakers (NA), I look forward to fighting once again to protect the craft baking sector. David Smith, chief executive, NA