The Competition Commission has decided that Tesco must sell the former Co-op store on Uxbridge Road in Slough as it had reduced competition and choice in the area.
The watchdog said its preferred solution was for another grocery retailer to buy the site and develop a competing store that was large enough ‘to compete effectively with the other large grocery stores in Slough, and especially with the large Tesco store at nearby Brunel Way’.
However, it added: ‘As a fallback, the commission would allow a retailer to move into a smaller unit – or combination of units – on the current redevelopment if the first option, which would require planning permission, takes too long or if planning permission is not granted.’
Since Tesco bought the site four years ago it has demolished the store and started work on a new four-unit retail development.
Commission to oversee sale
A divestment trustee will be appointed to oversee the process and report to the commission which will assess bids on a number of criteria before giving its approval to ensure an objective sales process. It said: ‘Tesco is not required to accept any offer than is unreasonable.’
Peter Freeman, inquiry group chairman and competition commission, said: ‘Tesco’s own internal assessments and the evidence of both stores’ performance shows that, under another owner, the Co-op store would have been the main competition to the Tesco store at Brunel Way.'
The Office of Fair Trading first referred the purchase to the Competition Commission in February 2004.