If the competition watchdog’s recent record is anything to go by, Tesco and Booker should brace themselves for a long slog.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today launched a phase one probe into the proposed £3.7bn deal, with a further-reaching phase two investigation almost certain to follow – something the CMA warned could take up to 24 weeks.

Rivals of both businesses, including the likes of Sainsbury’s and Nisa, are likely to submit their views to the watchdog over the next two weeks, while the onus will be on Tesco and Booker to alleviate the authority’s competition concerns.

But given the longer than anticipated dalliances the likes of Poundland, JD Sports and McColl’s have had with the CMA when attempting to achieve similar goals, Messrs Lewis and Wilson should expect much of their time to be taken up by a similarly drawn-out investigation.

Lewis’ target of late 2017/early 2018 to complete the deal now seems increasingly likely to become the latter.

Elsewhere today, we profile M&S’s new strategy director Melanie Smith and take a look inside Days Department Store in Carmarthen.

Today in numbers


The price Amazon’s shares hit in early trading this morning as they surpassed the $1,000-mark for the first time.


The number of stores Jack Wills is targeting in Germany after opening its first branch in Sylt.

Tomorrow’s agenda

A day of data includes the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar and Nielsen, plus the BRC’s Shop Price Index and the GfK’s consumer confidence barometer.

Luke Tugby, head of content