British supermarket chain Waitrose, a subsidiary of John Lewis Partnership, has admitted to blocking rivals from opening supermarkets in nearby locations.

An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that the retailer breached the Groceries Market Investigation (Controlled Land) Order 2010 in seven locations between 2010 and 2019.

Waitrose allegedly conspired with landlords to prevent rival companies from opening stores near Bromsgrove, Rustington, Swindon, Daventry, Chester, Notting Hill Gate and Market Harborough.

In response to the CMA’s findings, the retailer has agreed to remove such restrictions from land agreements.

CMA senior remedies director Adam Land said: “It’s disappointing that Waitrose has acted against the interests of shoppers, despite these rules having been in place for over ten years.

“Families across the UK are facing the rising cost of living. Preventing other supermarkets from opening new stores could stop people saving on their weekly shop.

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“Waitrose is now putting this right so that everyone gets a fair deal. We will continue to take action when our rules are broken, and we have asked all supermarkets to show us their land deals comply with the Order.”

The Groceries Market Investigation (Controlled Land) Order 2010 aims to ensure more choices of groceries and access to cheaper prices for shoppers by encouraging competition between supermarkets.

The CMA’s investigation into Waitrose comes after Tesco made similar changes in 2020 after violating this law 23 times.

The market watchdog has also demanded other retailers, including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer (M&S) and the Co-op, to provide proof of not engaging in similar breaches.

Last month, the CMA launched an investigation into ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda over misleading sustainability claims made by the fashion brands.

The probe is part of a wider investigation into potential ‘greenwashing’ amid concerns about the way the three brands’ products are marketed as eco-friendly.