UK: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally cleared Tesco’s £3.7bn purchase of the Booker wholesale foods group after investigating competition concerns.

The CMA found that Tesco as a retailer and Booker as a wholesaler – supplying to caterers, independent and symbol group retailers including Premier, Londis and Budgens – do not compete head-to-head in most of their activities. In particular, Tesco does not supply the catering sector to which Booker makes over 30% of its sales.

Simon Polito, chair of the independent inquiry group, said: “Our investigation has found that existing competition is sufficiently strong in both the wholesale and retail grocery sectors to ensure that the merger between Tesco and Booker will not lead to higher prices or a reduced service for supermarket and convenience shoppers.

The CMA points out that this is a provisional decision and is now inviting further comment and evidence before coming to a final view.

Tesco operates more than 3,000 stores across the UK. Booker supplies services to over 5,000 symbol stores as well as to thousands of independent retailers and caterers. Booker’s symbol group brands are Premier, Londis, Budgens and Family Shopper.