Sainsbury’s and Asda merger blocked by UK watchdog

The proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda has been blocked by the UK’s competition watchdog, which said the £7bn deal threatened to push up prices for consumers.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that UK shoppers and motorists would be worse off if Sainsbury’s and Asda were allowed to merge, with prices skyrocketing at the supermarkets’ petrol stations and longer checkout queues.

The second and third largest supermarkets in the UK agreed to end the deal, but Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe said the regulator was “effectively taking £1bn out of customers’ pockets”.

Reacting to the decision of the Competition and Markets Authority, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “This was the right decision by the CMA. From a competition, consumer and supplier perspective, this proposed merger would have been a bad deal. Many local suppliers to the grocery sector were extremely concerned that this merger would result in a significant reduction in trade.

“The local grocery market is rapidly changing. Growing numbers of consumers are moving away from the multiples and toward independent retailers. More and more consumers are no longer doing a weekly trolley shop and instead switching to a basket shop several times a week with our members.

“Convenience is the top priority for consumers, rather than a weekly trolley shop. This is the future of food retailing-not more big stores and less choice for consumers which this merger would have led to.”

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