Wall's faces trading curbs

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The Independent Online
ICE CREAM maker Birds Eye Wall's could be banned from insisting shopkeepers only stock its own products as part of recommendations being considered by competition watchdogs, it emerged yesterday.

The Competition Commission released a list of "possible remedies" as part of its inquiry into the pounds 600m market for "impulse-purchase ice cream" - the bars and lollies sold mainly through small shopkeepers.

Birds Eye Wall's dominates the impulse ice cream market with a 70 per cent share of sales.

The commission said while it had not yet made any decisions on whether the industry was operating against the public interest, it did want comments on possible remedies.

It said it was considering whether to ban Birds Eye Wall's from signing contracts with retailers preventing them selling ice cream products from its rivals. Its competitors, Nestle and Mars, and any other with impulse ice cream sales worth more than pounds 10m could also be subject to the ban.

Birds Eye Wall's also faces having to end any deals it has with retailers who reserve space for its ice creams in shop freezers, unless 40 per cent of the space was used to stock rival products.

Birds Eye Wall's said the list of possible remedies "may be disproportionate". Its business manager, Jill Turner, said: "We have seen very little evidence, and believe the Competition Commission has seen little evidence of consumer disquiet.

"We believe there is adequate choice out there for retailers, which leads to good choice for consumers. Our feeling is that many of these remedies could lead to a reduction in choice."