TESCO and Booker will be allowed to merge following a final ruling by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA, which gave the deal the provisional go ahead in November, has now examined all submissions since it published its report on the deal last month.
Following what the CMA described as an in-depth examination of evidence from a large number of wholesalers, suppliers and retail chains, as well as a survey of hundreds of retailers, the competition watchdog has ruled that Tesco’s £3.7bn purchase of Booker Group does not raise competition concerns.
Despite concerns raised by a number of major wholesalers, the CMA has found that although many Booker supplied shops compete with Tesco the wholesaler cannot decide how they compete – leaving retailers free to make decisions on price and range.
According to the CMA, of the hundreds of retailers surveyed as part of its investigation most said they shop at more than one wholesaler and frequently switch, with one quarter of symbol group retailers and a third of independent shops switching at least once a month.
Simon Polito, chair of the CMA’s inquiry group said: “We have carefully listened to feedback from retailers and wholesalers who operate in what are highly competitive UK retail and wholesale sectors.
“Retailers have told us that they shop around for the best prices and service from their wholesaler, and we are confident that this will continue after Tesco buys Booker.
“This has been an important investigation for us. Millions of people use their local supermarket or convenience store to buy their groceries or essentials, so it is vital that they have enough choice to secure the best deal for them. Having examined the evidence in depth, we are satisfied this will remain the case following the merger.”