Booker – The first wholesaler to be covered by GSCOP?
Thursday 4th June 2015
In May 2015, it was announced that Booker, the largest British wholesaler, was buying Musgrave, the owner of Londis and Budgens. The deal is subject to regulatory approval. It is said the deal will add around £833m to Booker’s already impressive £4.7bn turnover.
Booker already owns symbol grocery retailers Premier and Family Shopper and if you add the turnover Booker generates for such outlets, Booker is likely to exceed £1bn in retail grocery sales.
Currently, no wholesalers are subject to the terms of GSCOP. This only applies to grocery retailers with a turnover greater than £1bn, which means the top ten (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Co-Op, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland).
But, if Booker’s bid to buy Musgrave goes through, it seems certain that Booker will have a retail grocery turnover of over £1bn when it adds the Musgrave business to its symbol outlets.
The Competition Commission (now known as the Competition and Markets Authority) did suggest that wholesale retailers should be covered by GSCOP and it did not rule it out. But, it ultimately decided the test to determine who GSCOP should apply to should be retail grocery turnover. That being the case, Booker looks set to become the first wholesaler to be caught by GSCOP if the Musgrave deal goes through. The question is ‘How long will it take for the Competition and Market Authority to cotton on and will Booker be ready?’