The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has decided not to refer Tesco‘s acquisition of some 76 Mills Group convenience stores to The Competition Commission.

A spokesperson from the OFT told just-food that it concluded that, on a national level, the merger was “too small” to have a significant impact on competition.

On a local level, the spokesperson explained that “in all areas where a Mills, One Stop store and a Tesco store overlapped, the OFT found that the merged entity would continue to face sufficient competition in each local area”.

However, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) yesterday (14 March) expressed anger over the decision. CEO James Lowman said: “If Tesco sought to takeover a company operating 76 large supermarkets then it would most likely be blocked. We fail to see any reason why this merger has been treated differently.”

“A series of takeovers of convenience store groups have taken place over the past eight years and none have been subject to a full competition investigation. In that time Tesco has grown from a convenience store estate of around 80 stores to over 1700 today. The OFT has once again failed to fully consider the implications of this for choice and competitiveness in the long term.”

Following the deal, One Stop will account for around 1.2% of the approximately 50,000 convenience stores in the UK, according to IGD.