Norwegian grocery store chain Coop has won approval from Norway’s competition authorities to go ahead with its takeover of ICA and Rimi grocery stores in Norway. The deal is subject, though, to several conditions.
Norway’s dominant grocery retailer and wholesaler, Norgesgruppen, must be allowed to itself take over 50 of ICA Norge’s 553 ICA or Rimi stores, while the Bunnpris chain will get 43. That’s so Coop won’t become “too large” in some local markets, reported newspaper Aftenposten.
The head of ICA Norge, Thorbjørn Teie, said he was happy to finally have received an answer from the state regulator, Konkurransetilsynet. Coop announced last October that it wanted to buy ICA Norge’s ICA and Rimi stores in Norway for NOK 2.5 billion. Opponents of the deal claimed it would further consolidate Norway’s grocery store business, long criticized by consumer groups for its high prices and poor selection compared to most other countries, into the hands of two major players, Norgesgruppen and Coop.
Ole Robert Reitan of rival REMA 1000 called it a “bad day for competition” in Norway. Fully 90 percent of the grocery market in Norway will now be shared among just three players: Coop, REMA and Norgesgruppen, which runs chains including Meny, Spar, Kiwi, Centra and Joker.