The independent retail sector is holding meetings with the OFT and key ministers as part of efforts to block major multiples from taking over c-store chains.
This week a delegation from the ACS including Spar UK MD Jerry Marwood and leading Londis retailer Raj Chandegra met OFT officials in a bid to get an investigation into Sainsbury’s purchase of Jacksons.
After the two-hour meeting, ACS chief executive David Rae said the OFT team appeared to understand the ACS point of
view and had asked sensible and probing questions.
However, he said they were contricted by tight guidelines when looking at Jacksons, while the ACS was urging them to take a wider view and calling for a review of the whole market.
Rae said: “We pointed out that each deal in isolation was small, but eventually they would tip the balance, and it would be no good conducting a review once the balance had been tipped.
“They told us there was no need for a market review because the last one was only four years ago, but we pointed out the market had changed substantially since then.”
Next week the OFT will meet a delegation from the FWD which will also call for a market review, but it will go further and insist on a moratorium on takeovers for a year while the review is carried out.
FWD director general Alan Toft said: “A moratorium was ordered in France a few years ago while a review took place, and they have a much stronger independent sector as result. I think we are on the point of winning this argument.”
And on October 11 competition minister Gerry Sutcliffe will meet a delegation from the all-party Small Shops Group. The group, which represents a range of small stores, is chaired by Jim Dowd, Labour MP for Lewisham West.
Sutcliffe had met with major supermarkets and suppliers to find out whether the multiples are guilty of abusing their market dominance.