Despite a number of leaks during the new year holiday period, the final conclusions of the report were not written until this week.
MPs are currently looking over the draft copy with an official launch due in early February. But the report is expected to warn government that if it doesn’t do more to intervene, the viability of wholesalers supplying independent outlets, and therefore of independent retailers themselves, is in jeopardy.
The report is also expected to recommend steps a number of government departments can take to ensure diversity, such as stricter implementation of planning and parking regulations, and encouraging more transparency in buying prices.
MPs in the group are also expected to criticise the competition authorities for lack of action over Tesco’s takeover of Adminstore and the multiple giant’s trading tactics when attempting to lure customers away from the Proudfoots store in Withernsea, Yorkshire.
The report is the culmination of months of work, including three weeks of intense oral evidence sessions when retailers, trade associations and bodies such as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) contributed facts, opinions and predictions for the future of high street retailing to 2015. Government ministers with responsibility for competition, planning and rural affairs were questioned by the panel.
Although the Small Shops Group has no statutory powers, any pronouncements it makes will carry a significant weight within parliament and the wider national media.
Meanwhile, the OFT has written to symbol groups and wholesalers asking for information on the state of the market and the activities of multiple retailers.
The OFT has undertaken to look again at evidence of alleged market abuse before deciding whether to refer the grocery sector to the Competition Commission for a full review.