FWD: “Look very carefully at this merger”

Sainsbury’s and Asda deal needs special attention, according to Chief Executive James Bielby

FWD Chief Executive James Bielby has encouraged the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to closely scrutinise the proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda.

The planned merger, which has created concern across the industry since it was revealed last weekend, would require the CMA to give it the green light before it can become a reality.

And Bielby believes that, if approved, the deal could have a negative effect on the UK both socially and economically, and has the potential to create an “unfair burden” on wholesalers.

“We urge the CMA to look very carefully at this merger, particularly how it could increase prices for competitors and reduce choice in local neighbourhoods,” said Bielby.

“Independent shops thrive on a mix of great service, tailored product offers and a fair price, and they make a vital contribution both socially and economically. Disadvantaging them so that huge supermarket chains can compete with Aldi and Lidl would be a step backwards.”

Bielby’s worries are based on fears that a knock-on effect will be felt through a number sectors and ultimately put the squeeze on some of FWD’s members.

“The proposed merger raises a number of concerns for the constantly changing grocery market,” he added.

“Consolidation like this means a loss of competition and super-retailers like Sainsbury’s-Asda potentially using their buyer power to squeeze suppliers.

“If suppliers look to compensate with higher prices for other customers, the result could be a massive distortion in the market, which would place an unfair burden on smaller shops and the wholesalers who supply them, and make it difficult to compete.”

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