Two of the UK’s largest cash and carry operators are set to be combined after it was confirmed Bestway is in talks to buy Batleys.

Bestway, which has 31 depots, reported a turnover for its 2003/2004 financial year of £1,064m, while Batleys, with 25 depots, saw a turnover of £647m.

Younus Shiekh, the managing director of Bestway, and Len McCormick, managing director of Batleys, released a joint statement, stating: “It has come to both companies attention that rumours are rife in the trade with regard to a takeover or acquisition.

“We would like to say at this moment in time both companies are in talks about Bestway acquiring the Batleys Cash & Carry business, but would stress that nothing has been signed or firmed up and as such both businesses are trading as normal.

“As soon as we have something to announce we will announce it first of all to our staff and then to the trade.

“There will be no further comments on this matter until the situation is resolved.”