McColls new look 1

Morrisons has successfully averted a full-scale phase 2 Competition & Markets Authority inquiry into its £190m rescue deal for McColl’s. The watchdog today said it was minded to accept the supermarket’s proposal to sell 28 McColl’s stores.

In September, the CMA identified 35 areas where the deal could lead to a significant reduction in competition. While the number of proposed disposals is fewer than this, it said the sale of some stores would address the concerns in multiple areas.

Of the 28 sites, the vast majority (26) are in England, including stores in Swindon, Lincoln and Brentwood. One is in Scotland (Perth) and one is in Wales (Newport).

“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,” said CMA senior director of mergers Sorcha O’Carroll.

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

Morrisons agreed to buy McColl’s, of which it has been the primary supplier since 2018, after the 1,160-store convenience chain collapsed into administration in May. The CMA subsequently began looking into the deal on 13 July.

The CMA not only factored in the possible competition implication between Morrisons and McColl’s stores, but also the 800 or so Motor Fuel Group sites which, like Morrisons, are owned by Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

“We are pleased that the CMA proposes to accept our offer to sell 28 McColl’s stores to address competition concerns and we look forward to a swift conclusion of this process,” said a Morrisons spokesman.