The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will investigate the deal by the Central England Co-op to snap up part of its rival in the funeral care business, the Midcounties Co-op.
The UK competition regulator said today it is considering whether the merger deal “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition” within the market.
The CMA has started the invitation to comment until the end of August and set the deadline of 11 October for its phase 1 decision, when it will decide if a phase 2 probe is needed.
The investigation comes after increasing scrutiny of the funeral care sector by the CMA. In June, the regulator has ordered funeral directors and crematorium operators to make prices clear for customers or risk court action down the line.
The Central England Co-op confirmed to take over 50 Midcounties funeral homes earlier this year. The firm said the deal would consolidate its funeral care business, taking its total number of funeral homes to 182 and expanding its footprint in the Midlands, the Southeast and Southwest of England.
The deal will also include two vehicle logistics sites and Midcounties’ pre-paid funeral plan business. 252 workers from Midcounties will join Central England Co-op after the transaction is completed.