The UK competition watchdog has launched a formal investigation into the proposed merger between supermarket chains J Sainsbury and Asda (Financial Times, The Times, Independent). The Competition and Markets Authority is opening the first phase of its assessment into how the deal could affect competition for UK shoppers but said it expected to move quickly to a more in-depth “phase 2” inquiry, as the two companies had requested (The Guardian). It will look into whether the combined business would result in a less competitive environment and constrained choice for consumers as well as higher prices or even worse service (Telegraph, Daily Mail).
“A decade ago the regulator would have totted up national market share numbers and said no,” says Kate Burgess in the Financial Times’ (£) Lombard column. “Things have changed since,” she added, stating that German discounter Aldi and Lidl trebling their share in the market, and the changing methods of the CMA means it is more plausible now.
National Lottery operator Camelot has been fined £1.2m by the gambling regulator for a series of failings that included incorrectly issuing “non-winning” messages to players (Telegraph). The Post Office was also implicated in one of five sanctions handed out by the Gambling Commission on Thursday.
The government may be stockpiling medicines but the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, has promised consumers there will be no shortage of ingredients for the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich in the event the UK crashes out of the EU (The Guardian). But Britain’s leading bacon supplier, the owner of Danepak, warned that while there may not be shortages, the price of the BLT might go up as the vast majority of rashers come from the EU and could be hit by tariffs.
The heatwave boosted retail sales this month with shoppers splurging on food and drink for barbecues and garden parties but stores remain pessimistic about the future, according to the CBI. Britain’s biggest business lobby said retail sales in the year to August accelerated above the long-term average, primarily driven by higher sales at grocers, department stores and online (The Times £).
Scottish-based BrewDog saw its sales rise by 55 per cent to £78million in the first half of this year, with UK sales surging by 83 per cent (Daily Mail). Earlier this year, BrewDog announced plans to open at least 17 new bars in the UK and around the world this year.
The price of coffee has hit its lowest level in decades as an oversupply of beans floods the world market (Daily Mail). A recent good harvest means that the price for a pound of coffee is under a dollar, which is three times cheaper than it was in 2011.
Sanderson Farms saw sales and profit tumble in its fiscal third quarter as the poultry producer battles with low chicken prices, a domestic glut of beef and pork, and rising feed costs (Financial Times).
One fish and chip shop near York has hit on a novel way of attracting customers: translating its menu into Mandarin (The Guardian). Scotts Fish and Chips near York now serves more than 100 Chinese holidaymakers a week after launching a Mandarin website and promoting its deep-fried delicacies on Weibo and WeChat.
The owner of Franco Manca and the Real Greek chains has reported a rise in revenues as it opens new outlets and picks over the remains of sites formerly occupied by struggling rival businesses (The Times £).
DIY chain Homebase will go back to popular products and brands dropped by its previous owner Wesfarmers, as part of a three-year turnaround plan designed to address “extremely challenging” market conditions and excess store space (Financial Times).