By Adriano Marchese

Canada's antitrurst watchdog has obtained two court orders to help its probe on whether two of the country's largest grocers are using leases to dissuade competition.

The federal court granted the orders to the Competition Bureau for Empire and George Weston, the parent companies of Sobeys and Loblaw Companies, respectively, to hand over records and information related to the use of property controls in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Property controls limit how real estate can be used through exclusivity or restrictive clauses, including by competing food retailers. They can stifle competition by making it difficult, or even impossible, for businesses to open new stores.

Sobeys operates a network of about 1,600 stores across Canada under banners that include Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, FreshCo, Foodland, Longos, and Farm Boy. Loblaw Cos. has over 2,400 stores across the provinces including Loblaws, discount grocery chain No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore.

The Competition Bureau said the investigation will also span beyond the province of Nova Scotia as it looks to determine if and how this has occurred in across the rest of the country as well.

The regulator said this information will help determine whether either of the grocers are imposing anti-competitive restrictions, but noted that there is yet no conclusion of wrongdoing.

Write to Adriano Marchese at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-11-24 1237ET