Mounting speculation in the UK press is painting an increasingly gloomy outlook for Tesco as the conclusion of the first stage of the Competition Commission’s investigation into the UK grocery sector draws near.
Reports in the Sunday newspapers suggested that at least two of the six members of the investigation believe that the controversial land banks held by the UK’s number one supermarket restrict the entry of competition into new areas.
Tesco has refuted this suggestion. “The land we hold is for the future development of Tesco stores,” a spokesperson for the company told just-food. “We do not use land ownership as a method of restricting competition in any given market.”
The CC is expected to publish its initial findings in the next few days as part of the opening stage of the inquiry. The “emerging thinking” document will represent the consensus of the panel and is not expected to single any one supermarket out. According to the Office of Fair Trading, who referred the investigation to the CC, Tesco holds 55% of land banks identified.