Tesco is set to make its presence felt in the whole of the Republic of Ireland.

According to reports in the Irish press, it plans to open a store in Kilkenny - the only county where it does not have one.

The news came as more details emerged of Tesco&'s international ambitions, with further development in Thailand and a rumoured imminent entry into India.

Irish newspapers indicated that Tesco had met Kilkenny County councillors to discuss the plans. A spokeswoman would not comment on the move.

During an investor tour of its European operations last week, Tesco reported that it now had a 25.9% share of food sales in the Republic, with sales up 16% to 12.5bn (£1.7bn) in the year to February 2006 at 93 stores and through 1.95 million weekly transactions.

It said its strategy in the Republic was based on low price leadership through the leveraging of global scale, the opening of more stores and the consolidation of its distribution network. The network of five depots totalling 880,000 sq ft will become three depots totalling 1.2 million sq ft by next year.

The multiple refused to comment on reports in the Indian press that it was in the final stages of thrashing out a joint venture deal with Bharti Enterprises to open a chain of supermarkets throughout India.

However, Tesco does plan to add 195 stores to its current 150 in Thailand this year. &"It has been an incredibly successful operation,&" said a spokesman.

The multiple took over 11 Carrefour hypermarkets in the Czech Republic this week as part of a store-swap deal between the chains. The deal also includes the transfer of four Slovakian stores to Tesco in exchange for all its stores in Taiwan.

This part of the deal is on hold until it has been agreed by the competition authorities in Slovakia, but the Czech Republic swap was cleared in December.

The 27-store Czech chain Edeka, acquired in April, has been rebranded as Tesco.
Rachel Barnes