The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has written to the Competition Commission to highlight flaws in the Grocery Suppliers Code of Practice. It raised concerns about the failure to make non-compliance by supermarkets an offence, asking how it will be monitored and enforced.
ACS chief executive James Lowman says the Commission is proposing a code "without teeth".
"So far, the Commission has made slow and ineffective progress in delivering such an Ombudsman scheme," he said. "The proposed code has to be effective until such time as an Ombudsman is set up. A system wholly reliant on complaints is doomed to fail."
Lionel Cashin, who runs Turnbull's News Shop in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, said that there was no evidence that the Code would ever be effective. He said: "A level playing field between small retailers and supermarkets is required, but as it stands supermarkets have all of the advantages and that doesn't look likely to change."