The Irish red meat giant announced it was acquiring two Scotbeef operations in June

The Competition & Markets Authority has cleared ABP’s acquisition of two meat plants owned by rival supplier Scotbeef.

Irish red meat giant ABP confirmed its purchase of Scotbeef’s Bridge of Allan abattoir in Stirling and its Queenslie meat packing plant in Glasgow in June, ending months of speculation around the future of Scotbeef.

The supplier had lost an own label Aldi beef supply contract – serviced from Bridge of Allan and Queenslie – to ABP earlier this year. Scotbeef, Scotland’s last major independent beef processor, retained ownership of a plant in Wolverhampton plus its facilities at East Kilbride, Annan and Heysham.

The deal would see ABP integrate the Scotbeef businesses into its UK meat division – which also includes an existing Scottish processing facility in Perth.

However, the acquisition led to an enforcement order by the CMA on 29 July over concerns it could result in “a substantial lessening of competition”, according to the competitions watchdog.

The order compelled the two parties not to integrate the Scotbeef business into the ABP operation, to avoid the transfer of ownership or control of the business, and to avoid the impairment of the Scotbeef business’ ability to “compete independently in any of the markets affected by the transaction”.

The CMA finally gave its clearance to the deal on 9 November, having revoked its initial enforcement order on 11 October.

It is yet to publish a full text explaining its decision, but the move to approve the deal was welcomed by ABP, with CEO Frank Stephenson saying the processor was “looking forward to further developing opportunities for quality Scottish beef and lamb products in the retail and foodservice sectors across the UK and further afield”.