UK watchdog may appeal Tribunal's findings on JD Sports-Footasylum deal

FILE PHOTO: A JD Sports store is seen boarded up in Oxford Street, London, Britain, June 7, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) - Britain's Competition and Market Authority (CMA) said on Friday it may appeal a tribunal's judgement which found the regulator did not gather enough information about the impact of the coronavirus when assessing JD Sports' JD.L takeover of smaller rival Footasylum.

"We will now take stock of today's judgment and carefully consider our next steps, including whether to appeal," CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said here, adding it was disappointed the Competition Appeal Tribunal disagreed with its approach.

The competition watchdog had ordered JD to sell Footasylum earlier this year, saying the sportswear retailer’s 86 million pound deal left shoppers worse off.

JD had appealed CMA’s decision and said that in the context of coronavirus-related pressures on retailers, the move put the future of Footasylum and its 2,500 employees at risk.

Even before the coronavirus crisis decimated Britain’s retailers, the sector was struggling with weakening consumer spending due to Brexit, higher costs and more people shopping online.

“The entire case will now go back to the CMA for re-consideration and we look forward to presenting further evidence which demonstrates the true extent to which the competitive landscape has evolved,” JD Chairman Peter Cowgill said.

The Tribunal, however, supported here the way in which the CMA assessed the effects of the merger on consumers.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri