Coles Group subsidiary Chef Fresh has been given the green light by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to acquire chilled ready meals manufacturer Jewel Fine Foods, which has been in voluntary administration since April 2019.

In September, the ACCC opposed the sale of Jewel by B&J Kitchen because it would be “likely to substantially lessen competition for the supply of chilled ready meals”.

B&J City Kitchen is 77 per cent owned by Beak and Johnston Holdings and 23 per cent by Woolworths Group. B&J City Kitchen supplies nationally to grocery retailers including Woolworths, Coles, Metcash and Harris Farm.

ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said the Coles acquisition of Jewel ensured there will still be two major suppliers of chilled ready meals.

“We are pleased that the administration process will end with Jewel’s business continuing as a going concern and competing with other suppliers,” said Ridgeway.

“The ACCC investigation focused on whether other retailers would be foreclosed if Coles acquired the business. We found that Woolworths already has supply arrangements with Jewel’s competitor, B&J City Kitchen, and that other retailers have other options.”

Ridgeway said the continuation of chilled ready meals by Jewel was a “better outcome” for competition than liquidation of the assets.

Jewel is based in Banksmeadow, New South Wales, and is one of two major suppliers of chilled ready meals in Australia, along with B&J City Kitchen.

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