JD Sports/Footasylum deal may leave shoppers worse off: Britain’s watchdog

FILE PHOTO: People pass a JD Sports store in London, Britain April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s competition watchdog said on Tuesday a takeover of sports retailer Footasylum by larger rival JD Sports (JD.L) could leave shoppers worse off, and a sale of the business might be the only way to protect consumer interests.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was concerned that the loss of High Street competition resulting from the merger could mean shoppers would see fewer discounts from clearance sales and promotions, a lower quality of customer service and less choice in stores and online.

JD, which valued Footasylum at up to 90 million pounds ($116.14 million), said it will continue to make its case to the CMA in the coming weeks as the deal will benefit both consumers and the UK High Street.

“We anticipate that Footasylum will contribute less than 2% of the Group’s earnings in the year to January 2020,” JD said, adding that earnings are expected to be at least equal to the top end of market expectations between 403 million pounds and 434 million pounds.

The CMA said it would ask for views on its provisional findings by March 3 and possible remedies by Feb. 25 and will assess all evidence before making a final decision. The deadline for its final report has been extended to May 11.

Reporting By Sinead Cruise in London and Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru, editing by Clara Denina and Arun Koyyur

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