LONDON — Supermarkets in the United Kingdom could be forced to sell land for future stores to rival operators, and/or remove restrictive language from their property leases, according to the U.K. Competition Committee, which released results of its study into competitive practices in the grocery industry Wednesday. The study cleared Tesco of charges it was driving smaller rivals of the business, but said a lack of competition in certain markets hurts consumers and allows food retailers to weaken their offers to consumers nationally. “In most areas shoppers have good choice and benefit from strong competition between retailers, but in a number of local areas more competition would benefit consumers both locally and more generally,” Peter Freeman, chairman of the competition committee, said in a statement. The commission said it would consider several measures to remedy its concerns, including the lifting of restrictive lease covenants to prevent rivals from operating nearby stores; forcing certain retailers to sell landbanks to competitors; and addressing supermarket competition through planning efforts. Tesco in a statement Wednesday said it welcomed the commission’s recognition that it was not acting as a barrier to competitors and that it would monitor remedies. “Our job is to make sure that any remedies are justified and [assure] that the consumer is the winner,” Lucy Neville-Roth, Tesco’s director for corporate affairs, said.
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