FPB slams "Tesco law"

By Leah Vyse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Asda Wal-mart Tesco

The Forum of Private Businesses (FPB) has condemned government
plans to introduce the "Tesco law", which would allow UK
supermarkets to offer legal services.

The FPB believes that the proposed changes will be simply another cog in the monopolising wheel of supermarket power.

This follows the publication of a White Paper, championed by Lord Falconer, outlining the governments plans to allow businesses such as supermarkets to own and run legal firms following concerns that the public was not receiving straightforward legal advice.

The proposed law has been dubbed the 'Tesco law' because of the wide range of services the retailer already has to offer.

Ben Pinnington of FPB told FoodandDrinkEurope.com:"We feel deeply uneasy about the monstrous success of supermarkets like Tesco and we are very concerned about the dominance it has over independent businesses."

"The supermarkets - and in particular Tesco's - dominance of retail trade is a catastrophe for the high street right here and right now in virtually every town in Britain,"​ said FPB's chief executive Nick Goulding.

The White Paper sets out new ways of delivering legal services to consumers. It claims "consumers will benefit from the development of alternative business structures. These will enable legal and certain other services to be provided to high standards and in ways that suit different consumers. Arrangements will ensure competition and innovation can continue to flourish."

Currently the law stipulates that legal firms must be partnerships operated by lawyers.

The publication has received a mixed reception; Government minister Bridget Prentice has welcomed the proposed introduction of offering legal services in the UK, she said: "I don't see why consumers should not be able to get legal services as easily as they can buy a tin of beans."

Law Society president Kevin Martin, also spoke positively about the proposed changes to the law, he said: "We are pleased that the Government is finally taking steps to implement reforms. We have long promoted the need for a more flexible, consumer-focused, legal services market and new business structures for delivering legal services."

Leading UK supermarkets have been offering non-food services for some time. Tesco, which is set to introduce a catalogue for its non-food products to rival companies like Argos, appear to be selling every possible item required for day-to-day living. Its products range from garden sheds to family holidays.

It is now quite conceivable to never have to shop anywhere but a supermarket.

A Mintel spokesperson told FoodandDrinkEurope.com​ that although Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's all claim to have no immediate plans to offer legal services in-store, "It makes sense that supermarkets would move in this direction, as they are branching out into non-food in a big way."

"Profit margins are bigger on non-food services which is why Tesco and Asda have been so successful. This is just a natural extension of that."

As part of its online shopping service Tesco already have a Legal Store, offering a variety of DIY legal packs ranging from dealing with noisy neighbours to writing a will.

Tesco recently announced that it hopes to double the sales of its non-food items that account for about a fifth of the retailers £30 billion turnover.

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