Asda says it is "perversely pleased" with the Competition Commission's provisional findings that show it has the lowest number of local monopolies of the big four.
Speaking at Asda's annual business update, chief executive Andy Bond said the retailer had analysed information supplied by the commission and was now able to reveal Asda held the fewest monopolies while Tesco held the most.
The commission had identified 414 monopoly or duopoly stores within a ten-minute drive-time and 962 within a 15-minute drive, said Bond. Tesco had 40% of the monopolies, followed by Morrisons with 30%, Sainsbury's with 20% and Asda with just 10%, according to Asda's analysis of the commission's preliminary report. "This is a killer fact in terms of why the CC really needs to address this issue very seriously," said Bond. "The CC has identified this issue poses a significant detrimental effect for the consumer."
He said the number of monopoly situations was costing the consumer hundreds of millions of pounds, he added. "It is in a perverse way pleasing to Asda that we are the company with the fewest monopolies and duopolies," he said. "We've always been very transparent about the fact that we want more local competition and we're encouraged by the findings".
Tesco meanwhile, slammed Asda's calculations as "simply wrong". "It's not that high," a spokeswoman insisted, adding that Tesco had done nothing wrong in the way it had developed. "Anybody could have come in and got those stores; it's a level playing field."
The findings, however, could open the door to development for Asda if the commission decides to bring in a 'competition test', an idea mooted in the provisional findings.
The test would mean only supermarkets that provided competition to incumbent grocery retailers in an area would be considered for new development.
"Therefore this is an opportunity for Asda to provide customers with more choice in lots of locations," said Bond, who urged the Commission to "act aggressively" in breaking down monopolies.