As the Office of Fair Trading officially referred the grocery market to the Competition Commission, both Tesco and Asda announced plans that they say will support local communities.
Asda has signed up 15 local shops for a loyalty scheme to coincide with the opening of a store in Huntly, Aberdeenshire. The scheme offers George clothing vouchers to customers who shop in both Asda and participating local traders such as butchers, bakers and florists.
It confirmed that, if successful, it could be rolled out to other parts of the country. Meanwhile, Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy announced policies concerning the company's corporate social responsibility. Among proposals are pledges to consult communities more on new stores and to make Tesco Express stores less intrusive. This will involve blending shop fronts into their surroundings and making deliveries "quieter".
Association of Convenience Stores public affairs manager James Lowman welcomed the moves, but questioned whether they were any more than token gestures.