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Who would benefit from merger?

By Spalding Today Columnist

John Hayes (2322046)
John Hayes (2322046)

Supermarkets, Sainsbury's and Asda, are intending to merge. The proposal would make the consequent company the largest grocery business in the UK, with a market share of over 31 per cent, comprising nearly 3,000 stores.

While consumers would, necessarily, have less choice, with the corporate giant unwilling to eat into its own profits, local farmers, growers and food firms would also be deprived of the fair deal they deserve.

To be clear, this new conglomerate, by creating local monopolies, could render both farmers and local independent traders less commercially viable than they are now.

The deal may bring even worse news for the employees of this new Sainsbury's/Asda behemoth, with uncertainty about both job security and wage levels. Anyone adversely affected should contact me to seek the support which I will give willingly.

I have always been sceptical about the capricious power of supermarkets. Intent on retail dominance, they gobble up wholesalers, so distorting the food chain and, by dictating the price of food, put unbearable pressure on those that grow the food they sell and we consume.

The merger of Sainsbury's and Asda would create a corporate giant the size of which we have never seen before in the food sector. Despite having already driven out many small businesses, elements of a competitive market remain between supermarkets - with Lidl and Aldi recently challenging the longer-established names.

Now, this proposed merger will give the new Sainsbury's/Asda amalgam the power to eliminate more competitors, including, no doubt, many excellent independent small businesses.

Brexit gives us the chance to re-calibrate our food market. When I met the local NFU recently, we discussed how to seize this opportunity.

Farmers, understandably, want certainty about the Government's intentions. What is certain for me is that future farming strategy must emphasise cost effective production, reward efficiency and sustain commercial opportunities.

We should also shorten supply chains, with more of what we eat being grown and made here in Britain. That means re-focusing on local food chains, so that produce is grown, made and sold locally; that way, you know from where what you eat came, and what it comprises.

So, I have asked the Competition and Markets Authority to launch an investigation into the Sainsbury's and Asda merger.

It would be very unwise to let it proceed.

We must take on monopolies in all their forms, emulating the great American President, Theodore Roosevelt, who said; We must 'draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth'.

Whilst amassing immense wealth, supermarkets have got away with too much for too long.


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