Asda and Sainsbury’s say CMA has “moved the goalposts”
Published: 20 February 2019 - Fiona Garcia
Responding to today’s report on the merger, published by the CMA, the supermarket giants insist the deal would deliver savings for shoppers, adding that the watchdog’s analysis is not consistent with similar cases.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it found that the proposed deal could lead to a worse experience for in-store and online shoppers across the UK through higher prices, a poorer shopping experience, and reductions in the range and quality of products offered. It also has concerns that prices could rise at a large number of Sainsbury’s and Asda petrol stations.
The organisation added that it has provisional concerns that the merger could lead to a substantial lessening of competition at both a national and local level. The combined impact means that people could lose out right across the UK and that the deal could also cost shoppers through reduced competition in particular areas where Sainsbury’s and Asda stores overlap.
Commenting on the CMA’s provisional findings, a spokesperson for Sainsbury’s and Asda said in a joint statement: “These findings fundamentally misunderstand how people shop in the UK today and the intensity of competition in the grocery market. The CMA has moved the goalposts and its analysis is inconsistent with comparable cases.
“Combining Sainsbury’s and Asda would create significant cost savings, which would allow us to lower prices. Despite the savings being independently reviewed by two separate industry specialists, the CMA has chosen to discount them as benefits.
“We are surprised that the CMA would choose to reject the opportunity to put money directly into customers’ pockets, particularly at this time of economic uncertainty.
“We will be working to understand the rationale behind these findings and will continue to press our case in the coming weeks.”