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Walmart on edge of United Kingdom market: Sainsbury and Asda in merger talks

Walmart on edge of United Kingdom market: Sainsbury and Asda in merger talks

The combination would create Britain's largest supermarket chain, with a joint market share of 31% and 2,800 stores, moving the merged company ahead of market leader Tesco.

A source said Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's chief executive, would lead the combined group.

Sainsbury's and Walmart's Asda are in talks to create Britain's biggest supermarket group, a combination which would surpass Tesco's grocery market share and be worth up to 15 billion pounds ($20.7 billion).

Sainsbury's has confirmed to FoodIngredientsFirst that the talks are ongoing following reports on Sky News and the newswire Bloomberg earlier today. One option said to be under discussion would see Sainsbury's absorbing Asda stores, with Walmart taking a sizeable stake in the combined group.

Asda, which Walmart bought in 1999 for 6.7 billion pounds, is one of the retail giant's largest and worst-performing global businesses. "A further announcement will be made at 7am on Monday".

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Asda has about a 15.6% share of the United Kingdom grocery market, Kantar estimates, a figure that has been steadily eroding for the past two years, while Sainsbury's has around 15.8%.

What the merger of the second- and third-biggest supermarkets threatens is the creation of even more concentrated local monopolies, so it is obvious that there must be an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, starting immediately.

This would not be the first time Sainsbury's has acquired another high street giant.

Traditional retailers like Sainsbury and Asda have also been put under pressure by the growth in online retailers and low-priced rivals like Aldi and Lidl.

Britain's big grocers, including No. 4 player Morrisons, have been losing share to German discounters Aldi and Lidl and must also deal with growing demand for internet grocery shopping and the march of Amazon.

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Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer, said: "We will be seeking urgent meetings with the businesses to get more detail on what a possible merger will involve".

In 2016 Sainsbury's paid £1.4 billion to take over Argos and Habitat owner Home Retail Group and has been expanding its ranges and presence since.

"Our priorities will be to protect our members and ensure any deal between the retailers does not impact on their jobs or incomes".

"We are demanding an urgent meeting with Asda to get the answers and assurances our members need and deserve".

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