4 May 2009

Whiteford Welcomes Plans for Supermarket Ombudsman


SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the publication last week by the Competition Commission of draft details of plans to set up an Ombudsman to police the new Grocery Suppliers' Code of Conduct.

The move follows a long investigation dating back to May 2006 which found that the bulk buying power of certain large supermarkets adversely affected competition in the marketplace and was having a detrimental effect on suppliers.

The Inquiry was set up just one month after local SNP MP Alex Salmond highlighted concerns that one particular multi-national supermarket was demanding lump-sum payments from its suppliers to meet the cost of a price-cutting promotion.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"It is very much to the credit of the Competition Commission that they have pressed on with this investigation in spite of extreme pressure from the multi-national supermarkets.

"The Competition Commission uncovered what they called "significant evidence" of problems in the way supermarkets treat their suppliers, which bears out the testimonies of many suppliers who have been forced into accepting cuts in payment for their produce or, in some cases, paying for the supermarkets' "two-for-one" promotions.

"With the protection of an Ombudsman, suppliers will be able to invest in their business and produce a greater range of quality products for consumers without the fear that they will be blacklisted by supermarkets of face hefty losses because they have been "chosen" to fund a buy-one-get-one-free offer."

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

"As the scheme will be funded by a complaints-based system, if the supermarkets are as ethical as they claim then they will have nothing to fear from the new Ombudsman service as the costs to them will be minimal."

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