MPs urged to tame Tesco's advance

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The Independent Online

MPs will today be urged to put pressure on the Government to tighten planning policies to "tame" the advance of Tesco.

MPs will today be urged to put pressure on the Government to tighten planning policies to "tame" the advance of Tesco.

Friends of the Earth, the environmental pressure group, will today call for more regulation to protect the interests of local communities, suppliers and overseas workers from a rampant Tesco.

The UK's biggest supermarket group, which controls 27 per cent of the grocery market, hit back at claims that local communities suffered from its aggressive expansion plans. "Tesco is a responsible company and we are proud of our record of serving communities around the country and the benefits we bring, such as jobs, housing and investment in local economies," it said.

In a briefing for 30 MPs, FoE will claim that Tesco's success was based on "unfair and unethical trading practices". The pressure group will highlight how Tesco's decision to slash the retail price of bananas by more than 30 per cent in the last two years meant plantation workers in Latin America "are now receiving well below the living wage". It claims: "Workers who join trade unions are systematically harassed."

A Tesco spokesman said it had written to FoE rejecting each of the "misleading" claims. "It is disappointing that Friends of the Earth continue to ignore these benefits and the views of the majority of customers and suppliers with whom we talk every day," he said.

FoE wants the Government to introduce a stronger statutory supermarket code of practice that an independent supermarket watchdog would enforce. It said more than 80 MPs already supported its campaign, which is backed by an alliance of 15 farming, consumer and environment organisations. It also wants the Government to overhaul planning policies to protect town centres and local shops.

The briefing comes ahead of tomorrow's annual general meeting, which could see Tesco come under fire for promoting David Reid to chairman, even though he fails the Higgs recommendation that chairmen should be independent.

Analysts expect the group to report that its like-for-like sales growth rate has slowed during its first quarter to around 6 per cent, reflecting the heightened competitive environment.