Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Saturday, 25 August 2007 07:32 UK

Supermarkets accused of monopoly

Supermarket checkout
The UK's grocery market is currently under investigation

Supermarkets flout fair trading rules by threatening to stop buying from suppliers who make complaints against them, a survey has suggested.

A poll of 50 senior directors of UK supermarket suppliers found three- quarters did not have faith in Office of Fair Trading (OFT) rules.

More than half (52%) feared supermarkets would shut down their accounts if they complained.

They believed this rendered the OFT's rules on supermarkets unenforceable.

Duncan Swift, of business advisory firm Grant Thornton, which carried out the research earlier this year, said many food firms complained that supermarkets treated them badly.

'Ugly results'

He said: "If they complain the likelihood is that they will lose the business through de-listing. There is no real protection.

"Unbridled supermarket power has caused some ugly results for food suppliers and better, more enforceable rules are needed to ensure fair trading and the long-term prospects for the sector."

The survey comes in the midst of an investigation by the Competition Commission into allegations of unfair practices within the UK's grocery industry.

More than one-fifth of the business leaders questioned for the poll said supermarkets should be forced to commit in writing to the key terms of trade agreements.

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