May 30, 2017

Tesco faces competition probe into £3.7bn Booker purchase

Tesco faces a competition investigation into its planned £3.7bn acquisition of food wholesaler Booker Group, which supplies thousands of local grocery retailers that compete with the supermarket chain's small-format stores. The Competition and Markets Authority said it would "Assess whether the deal could reduce competition and choice for shoppers and other customers, such as stores currently supplied by Booker". Tesco has sought to portray the deal as a benign expansion into a wholesale market in which it has little presence. Analysts say the grocery market is now less concentrated than it was when the Competition Commission last conducted an investigation a decade ago, as the big supermarket discount operators Lidl and Aldi have seized a combined market share of 11 per cent. Since Tesco announced its move on Booker, in January, the transaction has become the first flashpoint of Dave Lewis's tenure as chief executive.

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