Independent retailers who are being treated unfairly by a supplier should tell the Small Business Commission, delegates to the NFRN annual conference have been told.

Paul Uppal, the former MP who heads the new body, said it had been set up to tackle the inequity between small businesses and some of the powerful companies they deal with. 

“We’re there to bat for small businesses. Our service is free, and you can speak to us anonymously, if necessary,” he said.

Asked by Wales NFRN member Dev Aswani about the commission’s authority, Mr Uppal said it had no powers to levy fines, but intended to ‘name and shame’ companies that treated small businesses unfairly.

Paul Gardner, owner of Budgens of Islington, London, welcomed the initiative. “We have no choice if our supplier starts messing us about. They are the least helpful people to speak to,” he said. 

However, Kay Patel, owner of five Best-one stores in London, said the body would need to prove its worth. “I’ll take it with a pinch of salt until other retailers say the process is easy,” he said.