Scottish Independence: Asda and Morrisons Chiefs Warn Scottish Consumers Could Face Higher Prices

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By Michael Klimes | December 10, 2013 1:29 AM EST

Asda has said that low prices might not continue in Scotland if it votes for independence in the September 2014 referendum (Reuters)

The price Scottish customers pay for groceries could increase if the country voted "yes" for independence in the September 2014 referendum.

Executives from two of Britain's biggest retailers have warned that an independent Scotland might mean that prices of basic staples could be hiked for Scottish consumers, and investment in the country could suffer.

"The cost of doing business in different parts of the UK does vary and the powers given to the Scottish Parliament in the 2012 Scotland Act and any "Yes" vote in 2014 could result in Scotland being a less attractive investment proposition for businesses and put further pressure on our costs," said Asda chief executive Andy Clarke to the Financial Times.

"The price customers pay for a pint of milk or loaf of bread is the same regardless of where they live in the UK," he added.

Grocers including Morrisons and Asda that operate in Scotland currently have higher costs of transport which they absorb across their wider British businesses.

Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips said: "If the regulatory environment was to increase the burden of the cost structure on business, that would potentially have to be passed through to consumer pricing, because why should the English and Welsh consumer subsidise this increased cost of doing business in Scotland?" 

However, a spokesperson for the Scottish government said there was no reason why retail prices in an independent Scotland would be any higher than at the moment.

"The Scottish government is already delivering the most competitive business rates regime in the UK, and our plans for an independent Scotland include proposals for lower corporation tax and for a fuel duty regulator to cut transport costs, meaning Scotland would be more competitive and less costly than at present," the spokesperson said.

At the end of November, the Scottish government published its White Paper for independence which highlight the main economic benefits that would come to the country if it voted "Yes" in the referendum.

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