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McColl’s (MCLS) has announced this morning it has received final and unconditional approval for its deal to buy 298 Co-op convenience stores struck in July 2016.

McColl’s said this morning it “welcomes today’s decision” by the Competition & Markets Authority.

It will begin to integrate the stores in late January and expects all conversions to be completed by the end of August 2017.

The addition of the 298 stores means convenience stores will compromise over three quarters of McColl’s total estate.

Jonathan Miller, Chief Executive, McColl’s commented: “We are delighted that the CMA has approved our acquisition of these 298 quality convenience stores. This is a transformational deal, which substantially accelerates our growth strategy and expands our neighbourhood presence for the benefit of our customers.

“We have a long history and proven track record of successfully integrating convenience stores into our estate, and we expect these newly acquired stores to make a significant contribution to our future strategic plans.”

Morning update

It’s another quiet morning on the markets in the run-up to Christmas. The CBI Distributive Trades Survey for December is released at 11am this morning and US food group General Mills is scheduled to issue a second quarter trading update later today.

The Grocer has the news that Northern Irish dairy business Dale Farm has shrugged off falling milk prices to move back into profit despite a drop in annual revenues. See the full story here.

Elsewhere, Lion Capital has acquired a majority stake in UK café-bar chain Loungers through the acquisition of Piper’s stake in the company and a portion of the founders’ stake. The transaction for the Bristol-founded chain values the business at £137m.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has edged back 0.2% to 7,005.4pts so far.

McColl’s is up 1.8% to 183.8p after securing regulatory clearance for its Co-op stores acquisition.

Other risers include FeverTree Drinks (FEVR), up 1.9% to 1,130p, Finsbury Food Group (FIF), up 1.2% to 117.9p and Marks & Spencer (MKS), up 1% to 356.1p.

Early fallers include Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), down 3.1% to 281p, Just Eat (JE), down 1.4% to 567.6p, Greene King (GNK), down 1.2% to 686p and Majestic Wine (WINE), down 1.2% to 300.5p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE remains on the brink of ending the year above 7,000pts as it moved back up 0.1% to 7,017.2pts yesterday.

There were some strong gains amongst the major FTSE 100 fmcg players, with Reckitt Benckiser (RB) up 2.7% to 6,794p, Unilever (ULVR) up 2.1% to 3,218.5p and Imperial Brands (IMB) up 1.8% to 3,553p.

Other risers included Greencore (GNC), up 2.5% to 238.1p, Greggs (GRG), up 1.8% to 942.5p, TATE & Lyle (TATE), up 1.5% to 694p, Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), up 2.8% to 290p, Stock Spirits (STCK), up 2.3% to 179p and FeverTree Drinks (FEVR) up 2.2% to 1,109p.

Amongst the few fallers were PayPoint (PAY), down 2% to 926.5p, Real Good Food (RDG), down 2.8% to 34.5p.

Marks & Spencer (MKS) and Sainsbury’s (SBRY) both edged down in the run-up to Christmas, falling by 0.7% to 352.7p and 0.8% to 247.9p respectively.

Away from the UK, French dairy giant Danone’s (BN) shares were down 3% yesterday to €60.40 after it lowered its sales forecast for the year following a weaker than expected performance in its European dairy business in the fourth quarter.