Glynn Davies
Morrisons and Sainsbury are least compatible with Safeway while Tesco and Asda have the best cultural fit, according to analysis by strategy consultancy Cognosis.
The company has developed a tool for measuring corporate structures, which categorises organisations based on criteria including how they handle change, deal with staff and their style of customer relationship.
According to the analysis, if Morrisons were successful in its bid the integration would be "slow and bloody" while a Sainsbury win would mean a "slow and drawn-out" cultural assimilation.
However, were Tesco to prove successful, the resulting cultural integration would be "quick and deadly" while Asda's rate of assimilation would be "quick and revolutionary".
"We analysed their cultures to see which were the matches made in heaven and which were the matches made in hell," explained Cognosis managing partner Richard Brown.
Up to 80% of mergers and acquisitions fail to deliver the predicted benefits and cultural mismatch is cited as the number one reason why, according to Brown. More importance should be given to this issue ahead of a takeover, he said.
David Simons, former Somerfield chief executive, puts some of the failure of his purchase of Kwik Save down to cultural differences.
"I hope for Ken [Morrison]'s sake that he doesn't win as it would be disastrous. I can't think of two businesses at further ends of the scale. It will be a nightmare for the business," he said.
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