Suppliers to Matalan have submitted a dossier of evidence on their dispute with the troubled clothing and home-wares retailer to the Department of Trade and Industry.
The Forum of Private Business (FPB) said the minister responsible for small firms, Margaret Hodge, has promised to view the folder, which contains a letter from Matalan to its suppliers last November imposing a retrospective two per cent discount on existing orders.
"These deductions were made without the suppliers' consent and, under the late payments legislation, suppliers may now be able to claim statutory interest of 12.5 per cent on these amounts which constitute an unpaid debt," said FPB chief executive Nick Goulding.
The FPB has received an assurance from Ms Hodge that the identity of individual sup-pliers will be kept confidential. It wants the impositions cancelled and is hopeful the minister will personally intervene.
According to the FPB, although Matalan offered to hold talks to resolve the issue it backed out of a scheduled meeting at the last minute due to chief executive John King's brief illness. It has tried to schedule another meeting but has so far been unsuccessful.
A spokeswoman for Matalan insisted the retailer is not aware of any ongoing disputes with its suppliers.
"Every supplier who has made a complaint has been dealt with individually by the chief executive," she said.
She explained Matalan is currently prevented from rescheduling a meeting with the FPB because it is in an offer period.
Matalan announced on June 30 that John Hargreaves, the retailer's founder, executive chairman and 53 per cent shareholder, is considering a bid.
Last Thursday, the UK Takeover Panel ruled he must announce a firm intention to make an offer by noon September 12, or walk away.