Decision Nº M/03/016 from Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, 2003-07-15

CourtCompetition and Consumer Protection Commission (Ireland)
PartiesGUS Ireland,March UK
Date15 July 2003
StatusCleared (Phase 1)
Decision Date15 July 2003
Decision NumberM/03/016
Determination of the Competition Authority
Determination No. M/03/016 of the Competition Authority, dated 15 July 2003,
Notification No. M/03/016 – Acquisition by March UK Limited of GUS Ireland
Limited and its subsidiaries
1. On 16 June 2003 the Competition Authority, in accordance with Section 18 of the
Competition Act, 2002 (“the Act”) was notified, on a mandatory basis, of a
proposal whereby March U.K. Limited (March) would acquire GUS Ireland
Limited and its subsidiaries (GUS Ireland), the Irish home shopping business of
GUS plc. The Authority, in accordance with s 23(1)(b) of the Act, notified the
parties that it considers the transaction to be a media merger.
The Parties
2. March is a UK company ultimately controlled by Sir David Barclay and Sir
Frederick Barclay who also ultimately control Littlewoods Limited (Littlewoods),
a UK non-food retail business with interests in high street stores, catalogue
stores, mail order catalogues, online sales and related businesses. Sir David
Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay also ultimately control the Scotsman
Publications Limited, a Scottish newspaper business and The Business Publishing
Limited which publishes a weekly business newspaper. There are a small amount
of sales of those publications in the State.
3. GUS Ireland is an Irish based home shopping catalogue business operating in the
State. Its principal brands in the State are “Family Album”, “Celtic Hampers”,
“Family Hampers”, “Kays” and “Morses”, offering a home shopping service to
customers via catalogues. The catalogues offer customers a wide range of goods
and additional services such as credit insurance. GUS Ireland formed part of the
GUS retail group, a UK group with interests in retail, home shopping and
financial services.
4. There is no significant degree of overlap between the parties’ activities within the
State. As part of its UK operations, Littlewoods has home shopping activities on
the island of Ireland, but these activities are limited to Northern Ireland. Any
sales into the State are insignificant cross-border sales. Although Littlewoods
operates an online catalogue service within the UK, this service is not available to
consumers within the State. GUS Ireland’s home shopping activities are limited
to the State. It does not operate within Northern Ireland, which is served by the
GUS group’s UK-based operation.
5. The Authority found that the relevant geographic market in this matter was likely
to be limited to the State, rather than a broader market encompassing the UK or a
European-wide market. It found that home shopping channels tend to operate

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