Tesco slams Competition Commission

TESCO, Britain&rsquo;s biggest retailer, yesterday hit back at plans by the Competition Commission to introduce a new test into the planning system to combat the dominance of big supermarket chains.<br /><br />Tesco supermarket director Lucy Neville-Rolfe said the move &ldquo;will cost jobs by deterring investment in the areas that need it most, in what is already a challenging climate.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Tesco&rsquo;s opposition to the test made Asda see red. The Wal-Mart owned group said: &ldquo;Anyone opposing this measure is in effect opposing more competition.&rdquo;<br /><br />The Commission wants to introduce changes to Britain&rsquo;s planning regime to encourage local authorities to block new supermarket developments in areas where the company concerned has more than 60 per cent market share, or owns another store within a 10-minute drive.<br /><br />The new &ldquo;10 minute test&rdquo; is particularly detrimental to Tesco&rsquo;s expansion plans &ndash; it already has 2,115 stores in the UK alone.<br /><br />Tesco appealed against the plan in March, and said the Commission had not properly assessed the costs of the test and had failed to address its proportionality and effectiveness, which was backed by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).<br /><br />CAT said the Commission had not provided enough evidence that the test was necessary or would work.<br /><br />Since then the Commission said it had conducted a detailed study which compared the benefits of increased competition with the costs of any delay between a dominant retailer&rsquo;s development being blocked and a rival taking its place.<br /><br />The Commission has arranged to meet the big supermarket chains, next month to discuss its plans before making a final decision on 5 October.<br /><br />The Commission said nearly &pound;2bn of benefits would flow to consumers over the next 25 years as a result of the measure.