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Economy Watchdog looks into Asda merger with Sainsbury’s

THE competition watchdog is being urged to look at the likely merger of Sainsbury’s and Asda amid concerns over loss of jobs and restricted consumer choice.

The £10 billion deal was under wraps until Saturday but is expected to be announced as soon as today. A merger between the two supermarkets would result in them having a bigger combined share of the grocery market than than the current leader Tesco.

Sainsbury’s and Walmart-owned Asda are the second and third-largest grocery retailers in Britain but they have been squeezed by the rise of lower-cost supermarkets Aldi and Lidl.

Labour is among those calling for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate any deal after the companies confirmed that they were in advanced talks.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey warned that, in the absence of proper vetting, it would be “British shoppers that suffer from rising prices and British workers that may be fearing for their jobs.”

Unions demanded urgent meetings with the firms.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “We are demanding an urgent meeting with Asda to get the answers and assurances our members need and deserve.

“GMB will be making sure the voices of supermarket workers are not lost amidst all the talk of mergers and acquisitions.

“We should never forget these companies’ empires are built upon the hard work of their employees.”

Usdaw national officer Joanne McGuinness said: “Our priorities will be to protect our members and ensure any deal between the retailers does not impact on their jobs or incomes.”

It would not be the first time Sainsbury’s has joined forces with another high-street giant. In April 2016, it announced a £1.4bn takeover of Argos.

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