Action against supermarkets could still be on the cards

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The Competition Commission (CC) could still take action on supermarkets and the use of alcohol as a loss-leader.Despite claims that supermarkets are...

The Competition Commission (CC) could still take action on supermarkets and the use of alcohol as a loss-leader.

Despite claims that supermarkets are to get off scot-free, the CC has denied national press reports that it had come to a final decision on the matter after its 16-month groceries enquiry.

A report in The Observer last week stated that the commission¹s inquiry into the groceries market was going to allow supermarkets to continue selling alcohol at below-cost, rock-bottom prices.

However, a spokesman for the CC told The Publican that the commission has yet to come to its final conclusion on the issue ­ let alone discuss solutions. ³We don¹t discuss remedies until we come to a conclusion on an issue,² he said.

The commission was also quoted by The Observer as saying: ³we look at what¹s good or bad for consumers in terms of their pockets rather than their livers² ­ something the commi-ssion has taken issue with.

³Whether we thought this or if we came out and said we wanted to ban the sale of alcohol we would be on very thin ice ­ these matters are outside our remit,² said the spokesman.

³We focus on competition issues ­ and don¹t forget we are looking at the entire groceries market.² The CC is yet to publish its provisional findings, which insiders suggest will offer the first opportunity for interested parties to get a clear understanding of what action might be taken.

Provisional findings are expected to be published either by the end of the month or in October.

The groceries inquiry is looking into whether the working practices of the big four supermarkets restrict competition across all goods categories.

However, it is the alcohol issue that has created the most controversy and interest in the national press.

Related topics: Legislation

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