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Morrison acquires Safeway

Press Release   •   Dec 19, 2003 13:06 CET

The UK’s fifth largest supermarket chain, William Morrison, has acquired the fourth largest multiple, Safeway.
Consolidation within the UK retail sector continued when William Morrison Supermarkets on Monday purchased its slightly larger rival, Safeway, for approximately DKK 33 billion. The new company will have a turnover of around DKK 150 billion.

William Morrison operates in Central and Northern England while Safeway is strong in Scotland and Southern England. The deal creates a nationwide chain with 552 outlets of which 53 must be disposed of in order to meet the UK’s competition authorities’ requirements.

The acquisition brings to a conclusion twelve months of negotiations during which the UK’s three largest multiples (Tesco, Asda and J. Sainsbury) also bid for Safeway. Rejecting bids from the three on competitive grounds, the competition authorities in the end gave the thumbs up to William Morrison.

The new company will control 15.6 % of the UK retail sector. Tesco remains the largest with a market share of 27% while the Wal-Mart-owned Asda has slightly below 17%. J. Sainsbury accounts for around 16 %.
Between them the four chains account for approx. 75 % of the UK’s retail sector.