Asda plans to expand into Northern Ireland and is said to be on the verge of the purchasing 13 Safeway stores there from its rival Morrisons.

The two retailers are reported to be in talks about the 15 stores, which range in size between 15.000 and 25,000 sq ft - well below the average 45,000 sq ft Asda store.

Analysts have speculated that Asda’s move into Northern Ireland will give it the opportunity to move into the Republic, and Dunnes is said to be the most likely acquisition by the company.