The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced it has “taken action to protect supermarket shoppers” by securing agreements from Sainsbury’s and Asda to stop using “unlawful anti-competitive” land agreements.
“These unlawful agreements include placing restrictions on land they own from being used by a rival supermarket, or imposing restrictions lasting five years or more that stop landlords from allowing competing stores on land in the same block as an existing supermarket,” said the CMA.
“The CMA found that the retail giants, who respectively hold the second and third highest market shares in the UK’s £188.1bn supermarket industry, breached the Groceries Market Investigation (Controlled Land) Order 2010, which was brought in to stop supermarkets imposing new restrictions that stop rivals from opening competing stores nearby.
“By ensuring supermarkets compete freely, the CMA is ensuring that shoppers have more choice and so benefit from a wider range of groceries and access to cheaper prices – which is even more important as the cost of living rises.”
The CMA said it found that Sainsbury’s breached the Order 18 times between 2011 and 2019 and Asda breached the Order 14 times between 2011 and 2019.
“Sainsbury’s has agreed to remove the outstanding restrictions the CMA identified from its land agreements to become compliant with the Order,” said the CMA.
“The restrictions identified within Asda’s land agreements have now been removed. The CMA has written to both parties outlining the breaches and the action agreed to prevent further breaches.”
David Stewart, Executive Director, Markets and Mergers at the CMA, said: “Restrictions of this nature are against the law, cause real harm to shoppers and will not be tolerated. This is particularly important at a time when many families are struggling to pay their weekly grocery bills.
“With families under increasing pressure, it is even more critical that competition between supermarkets is helping people to get the best deal.
“This enforcement action today is part of our wider action to tackle the cost of living and ensure that families really benefit from more competition.
“We recently stepped up our work to assess whether any failure in competition is contributing to grocery prices being higher and we will be updating on this next month.”