Supermarket update-(25.03.03)

The OFT appear to have passed the buck on to the competition commission over Safeway. Rather than allowing Morrisons to make an immediate bid subject to disposing the few stores where competition may suffer, the whole issue of what supermarkets is to be decided as a whole. There was potential for the OFT to look at the consumer interest issues and make a proactive decision that would enhance competition. This requires subjectivity and an approach that goes beyind a civil service box ticking exercise and we would not be too critical of the OFT for following this safer path, which at least unquestionably fits within its remit. However the consumer interest would have required some competition issues to differentiate between potential bidders at this stage.