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    Inquiry Widens Into the Sale of the Safeway Supermarket Chain

    LONDON - The UK Competition Commission inquiry into the sale of Safeway will be extended to include the impact upon convenience stores, the commission said on Thursday.

    LONDON - The UK Competition Commission inquiry into the sale of Safeway will be extended to include the impact upon convenience stores, the commission said on Thursday. It will also examine the effect upon supermarkets that have not made a bid -- including Marks & Spencer, Dunnes Stores and the Co-operative.

    The inquiry is expected to be the most wide-ranging probe ever conducted into the supermarket industry across the United Kingdom.

    Sir Derek Morris, chairman of the commission and chairman of the inquiry, said: "I am keen to ensure that we recognize the views of as broad a range of interested parties as possible. I want us to receive relevant evidence to the fullest extent, and for there to be a wide-ranging and focused discussion," according to a report in the Belfast Telegraph.

    Six major chains, including Tesco and Sainsbury, have bid up to GBP 3 billion ($4.82 billion) for the Safeway operation, raising new fears about the impact upon the wider retail trade, the food processing industry and the farming community.

    In a series of presentations at the commission's hearing, the big supermarkets faced questions from farmers, suppliers and consumer groups. The full report is expected to be issued on August 12.

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