Sainsbury’s and Asda “unlawfully” blocked rivals from store openings

14th June 2023 | Phoebe Dobke

Sainsbury’s and Asda have been ordered to stop using “unlawful anti-competitive land agreements” to prevent rivals from opening stores nearby.

The stores also used legal agreements to block landlords from allowing competing stores on land in the same block as existing shops.

According to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the restrictions have reduced consumers choices and access to lower priced goods.

The supermarket giants have agreed to address some 32 anti-competitive land agreements, however they claimed they had been “technical” and not harmed consumers.

The CMA found that Sainsbury’s had breached anti-competition rules 18 times between 2011 and 2019, while Asda totalled 14 breaches over the same period.

Sainsbury’s has now agreed to remove its restrictions. Asda’s land agreements have already been removed.

The CMS previously accused Tesco and Waitrose of similar offenses.

David Stewart, executive director of 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.”

A Sainsbury‘s spokesperson said: “We have co-operated fully with the CMA throughout this process and we are now resolving these issues, as well as taking steps to make sure this does not happen again.”

An Asda spokesman said: “We have reviewed details of over 1,600 property related transactions which identified 14 issues. All of these relate to legacy transactions that occurred between 2011 and 2019, when Asda was under different ownership, and involve technical errors in documentation that have all been resolved.”


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