SUPERMARKETS HAVE claimed that the OFT”s report proves that retailers are observing the code.The British Retail Consortium, which represents major retailers, said it welcomed the OFT”s conclusions.

Director general Kevin Hawkins said: “As we expected, the audit confirms that the retailers are observing the code and doing their best to make it work. We also welcome the OFT”s call to suppliers to overcome their fear of complaining and make use of the code.

“The OFT has once again emphasised that competition between food retailers is delivering important benefits to consumers. It has also reminded suppliers that any future complaints must be based on firm evidence and that the practices complained of must be shown to be preventing, restricting or distorting competition.”

Tesco, Britain”s largest supermarket, said it wanted UK suppliers” feedback on working with the company.

“We agree with the OFT that suppliers should not be apprehensive about complaining to us,” said chief executive Sir Terry Leahy. “We will be appointing a code compliance officer to hear formal supplier complaints, confidentially if requested.

“We also want to know what suppliers think of Tesco and how they find working with us. To achieve this we have launched the biggest supplier survey of its kind. The results will help us understand what is good and where we can improve.”