Competition Commission to curb retail dominance

Supermarket chains may be asked to close certain stores and be banned from opening new ones in particular areas as part of the Competition Commission’s investigation into the chains’ alleged excessive power over the grocery sector.

The commission has warned the big five supermarkets – Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and northern chain Morrisons – in a letter that they may have to sell stores in certain areas should it find all or any of the chains are acting against the public interest.

The letter also suggests it may order planning officials to restrict permission for the development of certain sites to particular chains. Both moves would aim to combat any regional dominance enjoyed by one or two supermarket companies.

The commission says it could also order the introduction of a code of practice, possibly enforced by the Department of Trade & Industry, to investigate any alleged misdealings with suppliers by the supermarkets.

The measures, which will be discussed with the supermarkets at official hearings in April, would badly hit a sector in the midst of a price war following the arrival of price-cutting US chain Wal-Mart. According to the Office for National Statistics, food prices fell by 1.6 per cent over the 12 months to December, a fall attributed to Wal-Mart’s takeover of Asda in July.

The Competition Commission has announced it will be unable to complete its report on the monopoly reference of the supply of groceries by the original April 7 deadline. It will now aim to complete its report by July 31.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here