The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has today confirmed that it will not be referring the acquisition by Tesco of 76 Mills Group stores to the Competition Commission.
Based in the north east of England, the former Mills outlets will now be re-branded as One Stop, the wholly owned convenience store subsidiary of Tesco.
Tesco will now run close to 600 One Stop outlets across the country, along with the hundreds of Express and Metro stores in the convenience format.
Strong objections to the move were made by several groups including the Association of Convenience Store (ACS), which argued it made Tesco too much dominant in the sector.
ACS CEO James Lowman commented: “If Tesco sought to takeover a company operating 76 large supermarkets then it would most likely be blocked. We fail to see any reason why this merger has been treated differently.
“A series of takeovers of convenience store groups have taken place over the past eight years and none have been subject to a full competition investigation.
“In that time Tesco has grown from a convenience store estate of around 80 stores to over 1700 today. The OFT has once again failed to fully consider the implications of this for choice and competiveness in the long term.”
Originally announced in December, the deal has since been subject to review by the OFT which has now concluded that that competition will not be harmed by the move.
The convenience sector is becoming increasingly competitive in the UK with most of the major retailers looking to expand their presence in the sector.