THE competition watchdog is opening a deeper probe into the planned acquisition by Tesco of the Galway-based Joyce’s Supermarkets chain.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) confirmed this evening that it’s conducting a further investigation after launching its initial probe last December as the takeover was announced.
“Following an extended preliminary investigation, the CCPC has determined that a full investigation is required in order to establish if the proposed transaction could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the State,” said the watchdog.
“The CCPC will publish its Phase 1 determination no later than 60 working days after the date of the determination and after allowing the parties the opportunity to request that confidential information be removed from the published version,” it added.
The UK multiple is buying all 10 outlets that are owned and operated by the Joyce family. The business has been in the Joyce family for 70 years.
Tesco has said that all the stores will be rebranded as Tesco outlets next year and will include services such as online shopping, click and collect, clothing and homeware products.
The Joyces’ stores – which include three outlets in Galway city – employ about 500 people.
Joyce’s Supermarkets shields group turnover, but it’s likely to be at least €60m a year. Even on a margin of about 2pc, that would give a pre-tax profit of at least €1.3m.
The chain is headed by Pat Joyce, who started his professional retail career after leaving school, joining Tesco in London in 1979, where he did a trainee management course.
Mr Joyce’s daughter, Aisling, is operations manager at the family chain, while a son, Patrick, manages the flagship outlet in Headford.
Mr Joyce said that last December that the family had “carefully considered” the takeover approach from Tesco and was “very pleased to pass our business on to an established brand”.
He said that the takeover will be “of significant benefit” to staff, suppliers and customers.
Tesco Ireland’s then chief executive Kari Daniels said the acquisition provides a platform for the retailer to expand the brand in the west of Ireland. Tesco Ireland is now headed by Natasha Adams.
According to the most recent data from research group Kantar, Tesco has a 21.3pc share of Ireland’s grocery market.