The Competition and Markets Authority has taken action to protect supermarket shoppers by securing agreements from Morrisons and Marks and Spencer that they’ll stop using unlawful anti-competitive land agreements.
These unlawful agreements include restrictions on land being used by a rival supermarket, or restrictions lasting five years or more that stop landlords from allowing competing stores to set up.
The CMA found that the retail giants, who together hold 12% market share of the UK’s supermarket industry, have both breached the Groceries Market Investigation (Controlled Land) Order 2010 Morrison 55 times between 2011 and 2020, and M&S 10 times between 2015 and 2019. The legislation was introduced to stop supermarkets imposing new restrictions that block rivals from opening competing stores nearby. By ensuring supermarkets compete freely, the CMA is ensuring that shoppers have more choice and so benefit from a wider range of groceries and access to cheaper prices – which is even more important as the cost of living rises.
Morrisons currently has the poorest compliance record with the Order that the CMA has seen to date. Although 14 of these restrictions have ended, there are an outstanding 41 restrictions that Morrisons has agreed to address. Likewise, five of M&S’s restrictions have ended and it has agreed to address the remaining five. The CMA has written to both supermarkets outlining the breaches and the actions agreed to improve compliance in the future.
Adam Land, Senior Director of Remedies Business and Financial Analysis at the CMA said: “At a time when the weekly shop is a source of financial pressure for many families, it’s crucial that competition between supermarkets is working well to help people get the best deals they can.
“These restrictive agreements by our leading retailers are unlawful. There can be no excuses made for non-compliance with an Order made in 2010, especially when we know the positive impact for shoppers of new stores on the high street.
“Our continued crackdown on these unlawful restrictions is part of our wider action to tackle the cost of living and ensure that people benefit from more competition and choice.”