Complaints made by suppliers against supermarkets will in future be investigated by a new independent ombudsman.
The announcement comes today as the Competition Commission announces its conclusions following a two-year investigation into the supermarket sector. The report also wants supermarkets to pass a competition test to prevent any one retailer dominating an area.
The new supermarket ombudsman will oversee grocery retailers with sales of over £1b, and require them to observe stricter rules when dealing with suppliers.
The ombudsman will look into any complaints suppliers have about supermarkets, and the Competition Commission says it should be able to impose significant fines on retailers that fail to comply with the ombudsman’s findings.
To encourage suppliers to bring complaints about retailers, the ombudsman will accept confidential information.
The proposals to ensure fair competition within an area mean that supermarkets would have to consult the Office of Fair Trading on all planning applications to build a larger outlet. They would also have to take a “competition test”.
Applications from retailers without a store in the area already, or where four different retailers are already trading, will pass the test.
The report also says that retailers can hold on to any undeveloped land they own, but they will not be allowed to say what can or cannot be built on the land if they sell it.