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Canadian Competition Bureau Investigates Loblaws and Sobeys for Anti-Competitive Practices

Abdur Rahman Khan

Sobeys, owned by Empire Company Ltd., has questioned the fairness of the investigation, while Loblaws’ parent company, George Weston Ltd., is cooperating.

Canada’s Competition Bureau is looking into Loblaws and Sobeys, the country’s biggest grocery chains, for potentially limiting competition through lease agreements.

The Bureau is specifically interested in “property controls” – clauses that restrict what other businesses can open in leased locations. They believe these controls might be hurting competition in the grocery market.

The Bureau has requested information from both companies, including details about their real estate holdings, lease agreements, and customer data. This will help them determine if these restrictions are harming competition.

Sobeys, owned by Empire Company Ltd., has questioned the fairness of the investigation, while Loblaws’ parent company, George Weston Ltd., is cooperating.

Sobeys argues these controls are standard practice and help with development investments. Loblaws claims they encourage new stores and risk-taking in the retail industry.

The investigation focuses on the companies’ operations across Canada, with a particular interest in Halifax.

The Competition Bureau believes these restrictions might be hindering the growth of independent grocers and foreign chains entering the Canadian market. Canada’s Industry Minister is actively seeking new foreign grocery players to boost competition.

This investigation could lead to changes in lease agreements that would allow for more competition in the Canadian grocery sector.

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