CMA paves way for Morrisons' McColls purchase

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has given Morrisons permission to purchase McColl’s, after the supermarket said it would sell 28 McColl stores to address concerns about competition.

Last month the CMA concluded its Phase 1 investigation into the merger and found that the deal would not harm the majority of shoppers or other businesses, but it raised concerns in 35 areas. The two retailers accepted these concerns and discussed potential solutions with the CMA.

Morrisons has offered to divest 28 McColl’s stores to a purchaser or purchasers to be approved by the CMA. The CMA said the proposal restores the loss of competition in 35 areas as a result of the deal.

While the number of McColl’s stores that Morrisons is proposing to sell is lower than the number of areas in which concerns were identified, the sale of some stores would address the concerns in multiple areas.

Commenting on the decision, Sorcha O’Carroll, senior director of mergers at CMA, said: “Our preliminary view is that the sale of these stores will preserve competition in these local areas and prevent consumers from losing out due to this deal, at a time when shoppers are already facing rising prices.”

She added: “If, after reviewing the responses to our consultation, we conclude that the competition issues have been addressed, the deal will be cleared.”

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