Tories promise retail ombudsman

4 January 2010

4 January 2010 | Jake Kanter

A UK Conservative government would crack down on supermarkets with poor supplier relations.

The Tories will pledge this week to introduce an ombudsman to help arbitrate between retailers and vendors.

Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert is to tell farmers on Tuesday that the Conservatives will “curb abuses of power” and protect the interests of consumers. All of the big four retailers - Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – oppose the plans.

Last year the Competition Commission (CC) recommended the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) establish an ombudsman after supermarkets with a turnover of more than £1 billion failed to agree to the scheme on a voluntary basis.

The commission wants the Office of Fair Trading to appoint an ombudsman, and estimates a regulator would cost £5 million a year – with retailers picking up the tab.

BIS is yet to respond to the CC’s recommendations and Herbert accused the government of dithering. A spokesman for the department said it would respond to the proposals shortly.

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