Leaked supermarket report prompts calls for DTI investigation

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The Independent Online

One of Britain's leading supermarket groups has written to the Department of Trade and Industry demanding an inquiry into the apparent leaking of the findings of the Competition Commission investigation into supermarket profits.

One of Britain's leading supermarket groups has written to the Department of Trade and Industry demanding an inquiry into the apparent leaking of the findings of the Competition Commission investigation into supermarket profits.

The supermarket operator, which declined to be named, instructed its legal advisers to fire off the letter yesterday after what appeared to be extensive leaking of parts of the report to weekend newspapers.

The letter stated: "At least part of the report has been leaked. This is a deplorable situation and the appropriate action should be taken and an internal inquiry undertaken."

The DTI would not comment on the letter. However, some of the major supermarkets believe the full report may be published tomorrow. "They've got to produce it soon after all these leaks," one supermarket spokesman said.

Separately yesterday, Tesco unveiled a £55m price cut campaign starting immediately. The move will see some prices cut by up to 20 per cent on items such as toys, cheese, yoghurts and CDs. A pack of eight Gillette Mach 3 razor blades will be reduced from £9.49 to £6.97. A Tesco whole camembert comes down from £1.55 to 99p.

Sainsbury's said it had no plans to follow the cuts but would stick to its lowest price guarantee of 1,000 lines. Asda said it was on track to cut the price of 10,000 lines by the end of the year. "They're following us," an Asda spokeswoman said. Analysts said Tesco's reductions were part of an annual round of Autumn price cuts.

According to weekend newspaper reports over the weekend, the Competition Commission paper is expected to be relatively friendly to the major grocers.

The central recommendation is thought to be a requirement for the big five supermarket operators to seek the approval of the Office of Fair Trading if they want to open another superstore within 15 minutes drive of one of their existing outlets.

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