The UK arm of French bakery giant Cérélia is mulling a further appeal against a regulatory decision to block its acquisition of ready-to-bake bakery brand Jus-Rol.

On Friday, a tribunal dismissed BakeAway’s initial appeal against the decision of the Competition & Markets Authority to order the divestment of the Jus-Rol brand, which the Cérélia-owned business bought in November 2021.

The judgment dismissed all four grounds of Cérélia’s appeal and backed the CMA’s finding that the deal would substantially lessen competition, putting UK grocers at risk of higher prices and lower quality products – which could ultimately be passed on to shoppers.

The CMA had cited evidence from grocery retailers which showed they consider Cérélia and Jus-Rol’s products to be important alternatives to one another. Grocers told the CMA that the ability to trade off Jus-Rol against Cérélia, and vice versa, allowed them to get a better deal for their customers.

The tribunal confirmed that the CMA had gathered and carefully weighed a great deal of evidence, had not made any error of fact or law, had conducted a rational and fair process, and that its order to sell off the brand was proportionate.

The CMA said that, following the judgment, it now expects Cérélia to commence the sale process.

However, BakeAway said it was considering a further appeal, which would put any sale on hold.

BakeAway said it stood by its view that the CMA misunderstands the competitive market dynamic in which it operates, and had downplayed the future benefits of the acquisition for consumers.

In argued that the CMA never specifically analysed what impact the merger would have on the price and quality offering for consumers, if any.

Rather the CMA “focused on the supply of dough to bake products to grocery retailers” and their ease of doing business, rather than making any findings as to the potential impact on price and quality for consumers.

Jan Boers, MD at BakeAway, said: “We’re very disappointed with the final ruling and still believe that the pastry and dough category is in desperate need of innovation and investment.

“In line with the UK government’s ambition to drive growth we purchased the Jus-Rol brand and brought production back to the UK, to the new factory we built in Corby.

“We sought to create a more innovative market offer for UK consumers and a more price competitive category by bringing together our expertise in pastry and dough and the strength of the Jus-Rol brand. We remain committed to those goals, and we are now considering all our options, including an appeal.”

If BakeAway pursues an appeal, no action would be taken with respect to divestment until the appeal has been determined.

Such a divestment would be either a total or partial sale of the Jus-Rol brand, at the option of the purchaser.

BakeAway has manufactured Jus-Rol at its factory in Corby, Northamptonshire, since 2021, having brought production of the brand – previously offshored to Europe – back to the UK from General Mills.