UK retailer Asda has become the first of the UK's major supermarkets to pioneer a red-tape cutting scheme that will help reduce time and money spent on administration.

The Primary Authority agreement, which it has signed with Wakefield Council, establishes the district as its single point of contact - its 'primary authority' - for health and safety issues affecting its 360 stores all over the UK.

Head of corporate communications for Asda, Dominic Burch, said: "The agreement will cover health and safety within England, Wales and Scotland, and Wakefield will be reviewing and agreeing a number of our health and safety policies and procedures.

"This will allow any local authority within Great Britain to contact Wakefield on any issues relating to these policies and procedures and allow us to agree a risk based approach to enforcement, aim to reduce accidents to colleagues and customers and improve compliance."

The agreement will cover 360 stores, 23 depots, 165,000 colleagues and 18m customers per week, the retailer said.

Chairman of the government's Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO), Clive Grace, said the agreement is a "milestone" that will have "significant positive effects" for the UK's business community.

"As one of the largest supermarket businesses in the country, and a major household name, Asda is setting the pace, and demonstrating how simpler, better regulation can benefit everyone - businesses, consumers and the community as a whole.

"We are seeing an increasing number of businesses, including the major supermarkets, recognising the benefits of this scheme. Their importance as businesses and high public profile are adding significant momentum to the drive for better regulation which brings rewards for the national business community as a whole."