The Competition Commission last month kicked off its latest inquiry into the dominance of the UK’s big four supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – its third such probe in the past seven years.
Fleishman-Hillard, which has represented Musgrave for the past ten years, has resigned. Musgrave is said to have narrowed its search down to Edelman and Financial Dynamics, owner of LLM Communications.
Musgrave’s UK business is threatened by the mushrooming of convenience-store versions of supermarkets, such as Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local, on the high street.
The Competition Commission inquiry, which could take up to two years, will probe local planning laws, anti-competitive pricing by the major supermarkets and the issue of land banking – whereby supermarkets are accused of buying land and retaining it to stop competitors building on it.
Musgrave runs a franchise model for its 2,200 Londis outlets. It plans to franchise more of its 230 Budgens stores, three quarters of which are company-owned.
While Musgrave tries to retain its image in the UK as a firm battling the major grocers, in its home market of Ireland it holds a 21 per cent share of the grocery market.