Waitrose Ltd / Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc

OFT closed case: Anticipated acquisition by Waitrose Limited of five stores from Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc.

Affected market: Grocery retailing

No. ME/1913/05

On the basis of the information available to it, the Office of Fair Trading has decided that the anticipated acquisition by Waitrose Limited (Waitrose) of five stores from Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc (Morrisons) does not qualify for investigation under the mergers provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 (the Act), because neither the UK turnover test nor the share of supply test in section 23 of the Act is met. A relevant merger situation has, therefore, not been created.

Waitrose previously acquired 19 stores from Morrisons in March 2004. Under s.27(5) of the Act, the OFT has a discretion to treat this earlier transaction as having occurred simultaneously on the date on which the current transaction occurred. In considering whether to exercise this discretion, the OFT has taken account of the following:

  • the transactions involve or involved the acquisition of Morrisons stores in different local areas within the UK; and
  • there is no basis for concluding that the transactions were structured so as to avoid scrutiny under the merger control provisions of the Act (the previous transaction was notified to the OFT on 25 March 2004 and cleared on 28 May 2004).

In these circumstances, the OFT has decided not to exercise its discretion under s.27(5) of the Act.

Published 1 September 2005