Well its taken a fair while, but what started as the Competition Commission’s investigation into the activity of supermarket giants back in 2006 is soon to end with a new code of practice from feb 4th, to be enforced by an independent Ombudsman- much to the chagrin of the giant retailers themselves of course.
During January, Kevin Brennan, the Consumer affairs minister, announced that he had decided to take on board the recommendation of the CC, given to him last summer, that an independent Ombudsman was necessary to ensure the new “fairer ” code of practice was adhered to by the supermarkets. The actual appointment of an Ombudsman may still take a few months, but the move has been welcomed by all kinds of groups keen to see supermarket power over its trade suppliers controlled.
Supermarket spokesmen have already pointed out that the cost of the Ombudsman will probably mean higher prices on the shelves. Maybe this is true, but it must also be true that consumer prices have been kept low in the past because of unchecked supermarket purchasing power. If the Competition Commission has deemed that some trade practices in the grocery trade have given the giant retailers an unfair competitive edge over smaller rivals, whilst hurting the cash flow and profitability of trade suppliers, aren’t higher prices worth paying to put things right? After all, i’m sure shelf prices would be a lot lower if supermarkets stole goods from suppliers, but no one in their right mind, including the supermarkets, would condone that practice. Correct? I’m sure supermarkets, suppliers, Government and consumers all want to see fairness in the way we do business in this country. It makes us all feel better about ourselves!
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