The leaders of the UK’s biggest wholesale businesses have urged the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to block the proposed £3.7 billion Tesco-Booker merger.
The bosses of the seven biggest wholesalers – Spar, Bestway, Bidfood, Landmark, Confex, Sugro and the country’s biggest buying group Wholesale Services – believe the deal would “threaten the survival of the independent retailer”.
The news comes just one day after Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis announced at the grocer’s half-year results yesterday that he was confident that the merger was on track
However, the seven wholesalers – which make up about 60 per cent of the convenience market – disagreed with Lewis and refuted Tesco‘s claim the deal would enhance competition.
The wholesale bosses also refuted the claim it would promote consumer interests.
They believe the merger will harm suppliers, result in higher prices and less choice for independent retailers and their consumers.
They also highlighted how they could match Tesco‘s 29 per cent market share of the grocery sector, which will increase should the Booker merger be approved.
“Tesco will have incontestable power over the procurement of all grocery categories in the UK. Suppliers will find it even harder to resist Tesco‘s demands,” they said.
They added: “At the retail level, the combination of Booker‘s wholesale prices and Tesco‘s deep pockets will present independent retailers with a stark choice: Join a Booker/Tesco symbol or go out of business.”
The CMA is in the process of investigating the proposed merger and is expected to report its provisional findings by the end of this month.
However, the final decision won’t be known until the end of the year.