Nisa retailers have called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to consider the impact nearby Co-op and Nisa stores stocking the same own-label products would have on competition, as it embarks on a phase one inquiry.
A deadline of 9 March has been set for retailers to submit concerns to the inquiry into the £143m acquisition, first approved in October. The merger, if successful, would give Nisa retailers access to Co-op’s own-label range.
Kishor Patel, of Nisa Crabtree Lane in Hemel Hempstead, argued that product range should be a priority for the investigation. “I expect the deal to go through, but the CMA should consider potential sanctions on product range.
“There would be no point of difference if a Nisa and Co-op in the same area were to sell the same own-label products and this would potentially impact overall sales and competition.”
However, Jack Matthews, of Bradleys Supermarket in Leicestershire, said he thought there would be no immediate problem with stores in the same area selling the same range.
“The CMA shouldn’t be too concerned. We’ll still have independence and it won’t make sense to have all own-label immediately because customers will be confused,” he said. “It’ll take at least a year for everything to come into place, which is plenty of time to work out how to adapt our businesses.”
The CMA will release its phase one decision on 23 April and can open a further six-week investigation if deemed necessary.
Mr Patel added: “I don’t want further delays. I’m already in limbo and I wouldn’t want to wait longer to see how my business is affected.”
A Co-op spokesman said: “We’re limited in what we can say at present, but we remain grateful for the patience of all the retailers.”
Nisa declined to comment.