By Julian Hunt Further evidence of the pressure under which many of the smaller players in the multiple sector are operating comes in this month's TradeTrak market share figures. In particular, our data for Iceland and the Somerfield group show they continue to lose chunks of market share. Our figures are for the 12 weeks to January 26 and in the case of Somerfield and Iceland the quarter-on-quarter comparisons are similar to those published last month for the 12 weeks ending December 29. These falls in market share imply that sales growth at the chains continues to be hard to come by. Expect changes at both Somerfield, which has created a new business unit to take charge of its eponymous high street chain, and Iceland, where new md Mike Coupe is now fully installed. Among the big four players, Safeway's market share has again tracked downwards in the latest period ­ reflecting slower sales growth there too. That has been caused partly through the disruption created by store refurbishments ­ the benefit of which Safeway should see in coming months. Tesco's share of the grocery market also dipped. Our last set of TradeTrak data had the multiple's market share down 0.3% quarter-on-quarter; this month its share was down 0.2% when comparing the current 12 week period with the previous 12 weeks. Last week analysts at HSBC published a report questioning whether Tesco's core grocery offer was starting to underperform. They said that while their evidence was fairly marginal, a pattern was emerging. "We suspect that poor availability, relative underinvestment in the UK estate and an increasing lack of differentiation may offer some explanation," they said. By contrast, Asda notched up impressive quarter-on- quarter growth of 0.6% ­ the same as in the last TradeTrak figures. That begs an obvious question: if Asda's growth continues apace, will it overtake Sainsbury to become Britain's number two supermarket operator? {{NEWS }}