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From Keighley News, February 24th, 2019
Written by Alistair Shand

A PROVISIONAL report against the merger of two supermarket giants has been welcomed by Keighley’s MP. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has voiced concerns about proposals to merge Sainsbury’s and Asda. It says the move could lead to higher prices and a poorer shopping experience, with a reduced range and quality of products. Town MP, John Grogan, said: “I very much welcome the provisional findings against the proposed merger. “I strongly agree with the authority that the merger could push-up prices and reduce quality, particularly in towns like Keighley which currently have two competing stores.

“I hope these provisional findings will be upheld when a final decision is made.”

The GMB union is also strongly against the merger plan.

It says Keighley has been identified as one of more than 130 places across the UK, where Sainsbury’s and Asda have supermarkets within close proximity, which could see one or other of its stores sold off if the move goes ahead.

National officer, Gary Carter, has blasted City claims that a merger could “absorb” a mass store sell-off.

“It would be disastrous for consumers, employees and local communities,” he said.

“The CMA needs to take account of the current retail climate, where the move from high street to online is having a dramatic effect.

“Consumer and business confidence is at a low.”

The CMA is inviting responses from interested parties to its initial analysis, before a final report is produced by the end of April.

Stuart McIntosh, chairman of the independent inquiry group carrying out the investigation, said: “Sainsbury’s and Asda are two of the biggest supermarkets in the UK, with millions of people purchasing their products and services every day.

“We have provisionally found that should the two merge, shoppers could face higher prices, reduced quality and choice and a poorer overall shopping experience. We also have concerns that prices could rise at a large number of their petrol stations.

“These are our provisional findings however, and the companies and others now have the opportunity to respond to the analysis we’ve set out.

“As well as concerns for people shopping in their stores, the CMA is concerned the merger could drive-up prices and reduce the quality of service for online customers.”