The Association of Convenience Stores has slammed the Office of Fair Trading after the regulator today waved through Tesco’s acquisition of 76 stores from Mills Group.
Tesco revealed in December that it was buying 77 convenience stores from Mills through its One Stop business. The deal was subject to regulatory approval and the ACS had called on the OFT to refer it to the Competition Commission.
However, in a statement this afternoon the watchdog confirmed that it had decided not to refer the deal on the basis of information currently available to it.
“If Tesco sought to takeover a company operating 76 large supermarkets then it would most likely be blocked,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman. “We fail to see any reason why this merger has been treated differently.”
He added: “A series of takeovers of convenience store groups have taken place over the past eight years and none have been subject to a full competition investigation.
“In that time Tesco has grown from a convenience store estate of around 80 stores to over 1,700 today. The OFT has once again failed to fully consider the implications of this for choice and competitiveness in the long term.”
OFT must block Tesco’s Mills deal, says ACS (10 January 2011)
OFT to examine One Stop’s swoop for Mills (20 December 2010)
Tesco grows One Stop with swoop for northeast indie Mills Group (16 December 2010)