Asda and Sainsbury's merger composite shot

Sir, The press was awash with misleading headlines after the latest developments in the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger.

The CMA states 463 locations are under risk of reduced competition.

But this does not imply that 463 locations will have to be sold to competitors.

When undertaking the fascia count process centred on Asda locations, there are 238 stores that fail the fascia test, and 225 when centred on Sainsbury’s (a total of 463).

The reason for similarity in fascia count figures between Sainsbury’s and Asda is that the majority are in the same overlap.

This is important as you are only forced to sell one or the other in overlapping areas. Maximise UK predicts 245 locations if, like the CMA until now, you exclude Aldi and Lidl as competitors.

But if the CMA introduces Aldi and Lidl into the competitor set in Phase 2, overlaps drop from 245 to just 73 locations and even further if other competitive formats are included.

And that is the real game-changer here.

David Haywood, founder, Maximise UK