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Competition Bureau investigating grocers over alleged bread price-fixing

The Competition Bureau said Monday it had raided the offices of certain companies in a criminal investigation tied to alleged price fixing following statements released by some of the countries largest grocery chains.

The bureau said the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa granted search warrants based on evidence that there are reasonable grounds to believe that certain individuals and companies have engaged in activities contrary to the Competition Act.

Spokeswoman Marie-France Faucher said bureau officers are conducting searches and gathering evidence to determine the facts.

READ MORE: Loblaw lays off 500 office workers in effort to cut costs

She said there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time and no charges have been laid, adding she could not reveal more details as the bureau is required to conduct investigations confidentially.

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George Weston Limited and Loblaw Companies Limited said in a statement that they are “aware of an industry-wide investigation by the Competition Bureau concerning a price-fixing scheme involving certain packaged bread products.”

READ MORE: Loblaw could offset higher costs from minimum wage hikes in Ont., Alta. with 0.4% price increase: CIBC report

George Weston and Loblaw said they are cooperating with the investigation, and will provide further comment when appropriate.

Metro Inc. says the investigation concerns certain suppliers and Canadian retailers and that it fully co-operates with the authorities, but also declined further comment.

Investors in major Canadian grocers appeared unfazed Tuesday by news of the criminal probe.

Shares of Loblaw and its parent company George Weston were relatively unchanged in early morning trading in Toronto.

Metro shares were also static.

— With a file from Global News reporter Rahul Kalvapalle