A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Small Shops has called for an independent retail regulator to oversee the major supermarkets.

The report High Street Britain: 2015 which was published on Wednesday (15 February) warned that small and independent retailers were being squeezed out because of the might of the large retailers.

To address the problem the group recommended that there should be a moratorium on further mergers and takeovers until the government has brought forward proposals to secure the diversity and vitality of the retail sector.

It also suggested the introduction of comprehensive codes of practice across the retail sector and a retail regulator.

The NFU said it backed the calls for an independent regulator and a strengthened statutory code of practice.

But it said it also wanted to see a full-blown review of the retail sector by the Competition Commission.

Tim Bennett, NFU president, said: “The Competition Commission needs to get involved.

The balance of power in the supply chain is tilted overwhelmingly in favour of the supermarkets and the lack of effective regulatory control means their power is open to abuse.

“The major retailers in the UK are very important customers of farmers and growers and the NFU is not anti-supermarkets. What we are against is trading relationships which operate in a climate of fear and oppression.”

Campaigning farmer David Handley, who is standing for election as NFU president, said the report was another damning indictment of the behaviour of supermarkets.

“The big retailers are squeezing the life out of small local shops that are often the lifeblood of their communities, as well as an important market for farmers to sell locally.”

isabel.davies@rbi.co.uk