The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the announcement from the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct a full market investigation into lending to the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) market. The investigation will look specifically at lending to SMEs and core products such as business current accounts.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the CMA decision to investigate SME lending. Access to finance and fair bank charges are key to ensuring that local shops can grow and create more jobs in their communities.

“With retailers needing to invest to keep their businesses in tune with rapidly changing market trends, access to finance is a key strategic issue for our members.”

Key findings from the CMA preliminary investigation found that the largest four lenders account for more than 85% of business current accounts and 90% of business loans. Annual switching levels for SMEs remain low at only 4%.

ACS will be submitting evidence from retailers about their experience of securing finance or switching business accounts.