Wiseman running monopoly Commission

2 May 2000

Wiseman running monopoly — Commission

By FWi staff

SCOTTISH milk giant Robert Wiseman has been operating a monopoly north of the border, the Competition Commission has concluded.

In an initial three-month inquiry it found that the company currently controls up to 85% of the Scotlands milk market, reports BBC Online.

Now the commission must decide whether Wiseman carried out any “uncompetitive” practices or had “exploited” its position.

Investigations will also centre on its distribution of milk to supermarkets, other retailers and caterers.

And the commission will seek to establish whether the firms aggressive reputation has been an obstacle to other players entering the market.

The company has expanded rapidly in recent years in a wave of acquisitions.

In 1997 East Kilbride-based Wiseman bought Scottish Pride, which at the time gave it 75% of the market.

Last year, it obtained consent from the authorities to buy the Aberdeen Milk co-operative and Gilmours Dairy.

Recently the company made moves into the English market, opening a dairy in Manchester and planning to open a 30 million dairy at Droitwich, near Birmingham.

Currently Wiseman is battling rival Dairy Crest to take over the milk and cheese businesses of Unigate.

Dairy Crest last week trumped Wisemans 225 million cash bid for Unigate with a revised 235 million offer.

Wiseman believed the inquiry was a direct result of other dairy firms trying to undermine its expansion plans further south.

Earlier this year, chairman Alan Wiseman said he was confident that the Competition Commission would find that Wiseman has not behaved in an anti-competitive way.

The commission decided to investigate the Scottish milk market after it was referred by the Director General of Fair Trading.

Wiseman has blamed a recent downturn in profits on the “extremely competitive” market in Scotland.

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