The Government has responded to the Competition Commission’s inquiry into the UK grocery sector, saying that it will consider establishing an ombudsman itself if the body cannot come to an agreement with grocers.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform noted that the Competition Commission is engaging with large grocers to implement an ombudsman. However, if the parties can’t agree, the department will consider taking action itself. The Government said “any assessment [will be] based primarily on what would be in consumers’ best interests”.

On the issue of a competition test being introduced for planning decisions concerning large grocery stores, the Government will take further time to reflect, following the legal challenge launched by Tesco against this recommendation at the end of June.

The Government also said it will consult later in the year on the issue of necessary action to prevent land agreements that can restrict entry by competitors.

Consumer affairs minister Gareth Thomas said: “I thank the Competition Commission for such an extensive and thorough investigation. Many of the measures they have identified will benefit consumers and I hope that they can implement them quickly. Further work, dialogue and consultation will take place on the recommendations put to Government.”