Holland & Barrett’s acquisition of rival Julian Graves has been provisionally cleared by the Competition Commission.

The Competition Commission ruled that the purchase of the 350 Julian Graves stores does not create unfair competition in the specific retail of nuts, seeds and dried fruit ranges.

The merger of the two health foods retailers was referred by the Office of Fair Trading in March after concerns were raised that the creation of a nationwide chain of 850 shops would give Holland & Barrett an unfair advantage.

The Competition Commission said competition from other retailers, in particular the supermarkets, would be sufficient to balance out the market.

The Competition Commission will consult on this provisional decision until August 12, after which a final ruling will be made.