By Max Clarke

Business minister Edward Davey’s plans to increase competition and transparency among UK businesses, by better informing consumers, entitled Responding to Better Choices, Better Deals, was published yesterday (Wednesday) by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) have voiced their scepticism over the measure, saying that responsible retailers already have relationships of trust with their customers and that the complex document may amount to little other than ‘burdensome obligations’.

"This wide ranging document includes some interesting ideas,” said British Retail Consortium Director of Business and Regulation Tom Ironside, “that could support action retailers are already taking, in response to demand from customers, in areas such as providing nutritional and environmental information on food and other products.

"Our members have well developed relationships of trust with their customers. They seek and receive extensive feedback. Pledges to ‘empower' shoppers must not translate into pointless and burdensome new obligations.

"A light-touch, non-regulatory approach is welcome but voluntary agreements or Responsibility Deals can end up imposing the same burdens as formal legislation. They must be used with care.

"Many of the issues covered in this paper are regulated at European level. Anything the Westminster Government does must be consistent with existing and planned EU regulation. And there's a strong need for consistency across the UK nations. UK-wide retailers should not be faced with four different consumer rights regimes. Nor do customers want to be confused by differing rules."