Sir Ken Morrison said his Bradford-based supermarket chain would vigorously pursue its agreed takeover bid for rival group Safeway, the only one “on the table” out of five other possible bidders.

In response to Tesco’s interest in making a possible offer for Safeway, Morrisons said such a deal would dominate the UK food retailing market with a share of approximately 44% in one-stop food shopping.

Sir Ken said: “A takeover by Tesco, Sainsbury or Asda could create an anti-competitive and unhealthy market place with less choice and potentially higher prices.”

He added: “The combination of Morrisons with Safeway will create a highly effective competitor for the big three national food retailers which they are all busy trying to thwart.”

He warned that a bid by a financial buyer, such as US firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts would lead to the break up of Safeway, leaving “just three big food retailers”.