NEWS Asda Sainsbury’s merger, as CMA raises concerns

The planned merger between the two supermarket giants could be in jeopardy, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issues a damning report, suggesting possible action would be to block the deal entirely or insist the supermarket chains sell off a “significant” number of stores to a suitable party, and potentially ditch either the Sainsbury’s or Asda brand. Stating that it would be difficult for the companies to address the extensive competition concerns it has identified, the CMA seems to favour a prohibition of the merger altogether, as it believes

a divestiture of assets designed to recreate the competitive rivalry lost through the merger, “carries a significant

risk of being an ineffective remedy”. The watchdog also believes,

allowing the merger to proceed, even with extensive divestitures, would ultimately, “represent a major restructuring of the UK

groceries sector and its market dynamics”, resulting in weaker competitive pressures across its markets, at both a national and local level. The issues raised by the CMA suggest the proposed merger, may result in higher prices and/ or lower quality of offering, leading to a worse experience

for in-store and online shoppers across the UK.

If allowed to go ahead, the deal would result in a merger between the second and third- largest grocery retailers in the UK and two and four of the largest retailers of online delivered groceries in the UK.

Chair of the independent inquiry group carrying out the investigation, Stuart McIntosh, said today: “These are two of the biggest

the UK, with millions of people purchasing their products and services every day. We have provisionally found that, should the two merge, shoppers could

Tong GC begins major development plans

Tong Garden Centre is set to complete the first stage of its latest expansion with support from a seven-figure HSBC UK funding package. The centre, which is situated between Leeds and Bradford, is expecting to complete the construction of a 4,000sq ft. warehouse this month. The new facility will have capacity for 400 pallets of stock and will support the business to meet growing demand both online and in store. Opening

the warehouse signals the first phase of major

redevelopment since the site was acquired in 2015 that will include a new two storey building, a new plant canopy, a bespoke soft play and event space and the development of the lakeside area with log cabins for educational and horticultural use. The garden centre saw positive growth in 2018, creating jobs internally and expanding the team, whilst the development, due for final completion in 2021, is expected to create up to 40 new jobs.

Charlie Barker, finance director at YGC Group, the

parent company of Tong Garden Centre, said: “Completing the new warehouse will provide a fantastic boost to the business, as we look to build on a great platform. We have just completed a strong Christmas trading period, with annual turnover now exceeding £9million. With these proposed developments in place and increasing online customer demand, we expect to see strong double digit growth over the next three years.” HSBC UK relationship director

Axminster Tools & Machinery in top 50 UK retailer list

East Devon tool specialist, Axminster has been listed in

the top 50 ecommerce

and cross-channel retailers, as detailed in the Internet Retailing UK (IRUK) Top 500 report 2019.

The company was first listed in the 2017 report, when it appeared in the top 250 group. Then in 2018 the company climbed up

a further two

groupings, securing a place in the top 100. Now in the top 50, Axminster is in the same group as household names, such as

Asda and ASOS.

Ranking is based on six performance measurements:

strategy and innovation, the customer, operations and logistics, merchandising, brand engagement and mobile and cross-channel.

A further performance dimension was also applied: footprint. This covers UK retail turnover,


penetration, web traffic and number of UK stores. Axminster attributes the rise to a committed web, social media, digital and content creative team. Dedicated customer service and logistics teams are strong, with

Dobbies sells two centres to Caulders

Dobbies Garden Centres has agreed the sale of

its two

smallest centres - Kinross and Cumbernauld - to family-run Caulders Garden Centres. Dobbies – which bought six Wyevale centres last year – said the sale of these two smaller centres is in line with a strategic

growth plan, as it building

a centre business. The deal sees independent

group Caulders, which is run by Colin and Mandy Barrie, expand its portfolio to seven centres across central Scotland. The business has been trading for nearly 20


focuses on garden

years, having been established with a centre in Mugdock Country Park in East Dunbartonshire. Its most recent acquisition was Cupar Garden Centre in Fife, which the Barries bought in 2017.

Dobbies CEO Graeme Jenkins said: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of our two

for West & South Yorkshire James McCullough added: “YGC Group has restored Tong to the iconic garden centre that it once was and the centre does a fantastic job at ensuring the satisfaction of

its customers.

Those that have visited know that Tong Garden Centre is much more than a garden centre and the scale of redevelopment takes this to the next level. Opening a new warehouse of this size shows that YGC understand the benefits of matching experiential and online retail offerings.”

the company maintaining 9.7 out of 10 on Trustpilot for another year in a row. With its eight stores across the UK, face-to-face retailing is also a key factor in the company’s success.

Managing Director Alan Styles commented: “For the past year, we’ve been working with a revised pricing policy and have successfully refocused on our own brands through relevant media and technology.” He added: “With the combination of web, social media and retail outlets, our brand has remained strong despite ongoing uncertainty. I think it is a truly excellent achievement to have moved up from the top 100 to the top 50 within the past 12 months.”

smallest centres to Caulders, one of Scotland’s leading and most experienced independent garden centre operators. We would like to thank our fantastic colleagues at these centres and wish them well for the next stage of their career under Caulders’ ownership.”

Under the terms of the deal, all 43 Dobbies team members at the Kinross and Cumbernauld centres will transfer

face higher prices, reduced

quality and choice, and a poorer overall shopping experience across the UK.” However, Asda and Sainsburys have accused the CMA of “moving the goalposts” and says the watchdog’s findings “fundamentally

misunderstand supermarkets in

how people shop in the UK today and the intensity of competition in the grocery market”. The grocers insist the deal would create significant cost savings, which would allow them to lower prices and “put money directly into customers’ pockets”. The CMA’s final report will be issued by April 30.

ERA acquires Y-Cam

Home security , ERA has purchased British smart security pioneer Y-cam, taking on its cloud system and range of security cameras, alarms and sensors.

ERA says the acquisition will make it “one of the most advanced and capable providers of smart security solutions for the home”.

The addition of Y-cam’s

proprietary cloud platform, alongside its range of award- winning cameras, alarms and sensors, will provide ERA with greater expertise in the sector and substantial potential for further growth. According to a recent GFK Global report, the UK is the fastest-growing smart home market in Europe and smart security products have the second highest level of appeal after connected entertainment devices. ERA CEO Darren Waters said:

“Rapid growth in the connectivity of British homes, coupled with a big increase in consumer awareness, means that demand for trustworthy smart security technology is increasing rapidly. “Unlike many other businesses in the sector, we’re building our smart capability on 180 years of expertise; The acquisition of Y-cam puts ERA at the forefront of the smart security market”.

across to Caulders.

Caulders managing director Colin Barrie said: “We are looking forward to welcoming our new team members to the Caulders family, and to working with them to develop these fantastic garden centres over the years to come. “There are superb teams at

both Kinross and Cumbernauld... The centres are a great fit for us and a welcome addition to our family business.”


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