28 June 2000
Wiseman faces action over monopoly

By FWi staff

SCOTTISH dairy giant Robert Wiseman Dairies may be forced to sell off part of its processing business or freeze its prices for the next three years.

The suggestions were made on Wednesday (28 June) by the Competition Commission during its inquiry into milk supplies in Scotland.

Commission officials have already ruled that Wiseman operates a monopoly north of the border. They are now deciding whether it has exploited the position.

A commission statement said that it would be necessary to “recommend remedies” Wiseman is found to be operating against the public interest.

Its investigations centre on whether Wiseman, which has an estimated 70%-85% share of the Scottish milk market, has acted in an anti-competitive way.

As part of the probe, the commission has published a list of “remedies” which could be used if it rules against Wiseman later this year.

The commission has stressed that the recommendations are “entirely hypothetical”. It has asked Wiseman representatives to comment on them.

The company could sell part of its processing capacity in Scotland, or part of its business supplying retailers other than the big supermarkets, it suggests.

Wiseman is also asked to consider freezing prices to retailers and maintain any price reductions given to customers since the end of 1998 for three years.

Another measure suggested is that Wiseman could be stopped from buying more processing plants in Scotland.

No conclusions will be reached until the commission submit its report to the Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers on 2 November.