Despite consistent reassurances by Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe that there will be no store closures or job losses as a result of the proposed merger between his company and rival supermarket chain Asda, new analysis by The Times suggests that competition watchdogs could demand that as many as 300 stores are sold off if the deal is given the go ahead.
The analysis is said to have used the same modelling techniques which are likely to be employed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) when considering such a deal, and also revealed that at around half of the 300 locations identified, Tesco or Morrisons may not wish to buy one of the former Asda or Sainsbury’s stores.
The news will come as a blow to Sainsbury’s which had already been accused of offering “Mickey Mouse figures” about the merger by MP Neil Parish, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
Last week the CMA confirmed that its formal investigation into the merger has begun. Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said, “We will carry out a thorough investigation to find out if this merger could lead to higher prices or a worse quality of service for shoppers and will not allow it to go ahead unless any concerns we find are fully dealt with.” In May an initial estimate by the BBC suggested that 73 stores may have to be sold to get the deal approved.
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