The Association of Convenience Stores has made its opening plea to the Competition Commission, calling on it to focus its inquiry on the market power of the largest four supermarkets.
The plea formed part of a detailed submission after the Commission requested views on the subject areas that should be covered in the inquiry. The submission was also supported by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors and the Scottish Grocers Federation, both of which have joined the Community Shops Campaign Trust, which is funding the work of the small shops sector.
ACS director of public affairs James Lowman said: "The buying power of the superstores is the key factor that distorts competition in the market. We argue that the primary concern of the inquiry must be the way the power is exploited through predatory pricing and price flexing, and through exploitation of the planning system."
According to the Commission's timetable for the inquiry, it is due to have published its report by October 2007. Under law, it cannot take more than two years, so it must complete its investigation by May 8, 2008. Between now and September it will be conducting a series of visits and hearings with the main players and third parties.