As far as the Asda-Sainsbury’s merger is concerned, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has been in close contact with the chief executives of both organisations. They have confirmed that there are no planned store closures as a result of the merger.
Asda and Sainsbury’s combined will have a workforce of 330,000 people. Will the Secretary of State provide any assurance to these workers today that the Government will do everything in their power to stop any job losses or any cuts to pay and conditions? Is this a supermarket deal for workers and customers, or is it one for private profiteer shareholders?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the merger is a matter for the companies themselves. They have, however, given an assurance that there are no planned closures and confirmed that Asda will continue to be run from Leeds with its own chief executive officer. The Competition and Markets Authority is looking at other aspects of the merger.
A lot of jobs are sustained by local suppliers to both supermarkets. What opportunities will the Minister take to ensure that that continues, and in fact increases, with the newly formed company?
The potential impact on suppliers and the supply chain is a very valid concern, given the market power that the combined entity will have, which is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State wrote to the CMA asking it to look at the impact on the supply chain as part of its ongoing investigation.