The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that the purchase by Euro Car Parts of much of the Andrew Page business could ‘damage competition in 10 local areas’.
Euro Car Parts bought most of Andrew Page in October 2016, after the latter went into administration. Following a complaint, a group of independent panel members at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has investigated the merger. The group identified 10 local areas in England where the two companies were close competitors and where the merger could result in reduced competition for local customers, leading to higher prices or a lower quality of service.
The 10 areas mentioned in the draft are:
- (a) Blackpool;
- (b) Brighton;
- (c) Gloucester;
- (d) Liphook;
- (e) Scunthorpe;
- (f) Sunderland;
- (g) Swindon;
- (h) Wakefield;
- (i) Worthing; and
- (j) York.
The group did not consider that national or multi-regional customers would be adversely affected by the merger.
Professor Alasdair Smith, Inquiry Chair, said: “Andrew Page was in administration and would have closed down if a purchaser had not been found. The only two other purchasers would have bought a much smaller number of depots. We think that in most markets the merger will not further reduce competition compared to the alternative. However, in 10 local areas we are concerned that a reduction in competition could lead to higher prices and a lower quality of service.
In addition to the summary of provisional findings and the provisional findings report, a notice of possible remedies has been issued today, which outlines the measures the CMA could take if it still believes the merger would reduce competition when it makes its final decision. This identifies that competition could be maintained if Euro Car Parts sells depots in the 10 affected areas.
Anyone wishing to respond to the notice of possible remedies should do so in writing by no later than 28 September 2017. Anyone wishing to respond to the provisional findings should do so in writing, by no later than 5 October 2017.
More on this fast-moving story as soon as we get it – Ed