It was begun during one administration’s tenure and completed under another’s, but you probably couldn’t tell: the Government response to the consultation on creating a grocery ombudsman - or adjudicator as it is now termed - is classic British fudge.

It was begun during one administration’s tenure and completed under another’s, but you probably couldn’t tell: the Government response to the consultation on creating a grocery ombudsman - or adjudicator as it is now termed - is classic British fudge.

There’s enough in the 89-page document for retailers and suppliers alike to take some comfort and, freighted as it is with phrases such as “to be determined at a later date”, the likelihood is the spirit of compromise will be carried through as details are worked out.

While grocers might prefer the adjudicator not to exist at all, they will live with it. The very term adjudicator, rather than ombudsman, is seen by some as indicative of a less draconian regime than feared.

But there’s no ignoring the fact that the costs - to be covered by grocers - and red tape of the scheme are bad news for supermarkets, an unwelcome diversion from their prime purpose of serving shoppers at a time when competition is ferocious and trading conditions uncertain.

The grocers have become retail giants as a result of catering for and anticipating the needs of consumers. They have frequently been able to do so by buddying, not bullying, suppliers.

No doubt some suppliers will be spoiling for a fight under the new system. Grocers should do all they can to deny them the chance.

Stewart a good fit for M&S

While WHSmith boss Kate Swann was sometimes mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Sir Stuart Rose in charge of Marks & Spencer, her former lieutenant Alan Stewart was a surprise choice to become M&S’s new finance director.

Swann has won respect for ability to defy financial gravity at WHSmith - profits rise while sales fall. Stewart’s cost-consciousness made him a key right-hand man.

No doubt Stewart will be a strong hand on M&S’s financial tiller. His numbers nous and chief executive Marc Bolland’s leadership and marketing skills should make a powerful combination.

That’s as long as M&S customers, unlike WHSmith’s, aren’t asked whether they also want to buy a bar of chocolate - Plan A-compliant fair trade of course - when they pitch up at the till with their purchases.