US retail giant K Mart is said to be seeking a merger with a supermarket partner. The chain has already sought a three-way deal with Albertsons and American Stores. Tesco has refused to comment on trade rumours it will be running a half-price bonanza in its stores in the New Year. IGD's grocery market shares for 1997 confirm Tesco as leader with 15.2% of total sales, followed by Sainsbury (12.7%), Asda (8.5%) and Safeway (7.7%). Ushers and venture capitalist Alchemy Partners are said to be trying to revive their aborted management buyout of the Wiltshire brewer. Safeway has joined forces with Malton Bacon to launch British tender pork loin steaks which can be microwaved within five minutes. The companies claim this is a first for the market. Unilever has sold its Harmony brand. The buyer is believed to be a start up vehicle called EMVI. Unilever said the hairspray was sold mainly in the UK and did not fit in with its global strategy. Waitrose is planning to build a 30,000 sq ft store on Marylebone High Street, London. Cornish clotted cream has become the 500th food line to receive protection under the EU's designated regional origin schemes. Preston based Little Town Dairy has launched a range of yogurts under the auspices of the RSPCA's Freedom Foods scheme. Oasis Food and Drink, the distributor of temperature controlled vegetarian and health foods, has started a weekly delivery service for retailers in Wales, and plans to be national in a year. Jim Baker has retired from the board of Thames Valley Eggs after 21 years with the company, the last nine as chairman. PayPoint has collected more than £200m for its clients since launching its free bill payment network 12 months ago. It says 5,500 outlets now have PayPoint terminals. Carrefour is launching a cut price fixed line telephone service in France. Booker Belmont Wholesale has launched a new cigar brand called Prestige. Canadian group Empire could become the country's second largest supermarket chain if its C$1.4bn offer for Oshawa, which part owns the IGS chain, is accepted. Empire owns Sobeys. PepsiCo is to sell its Delicja sweet biscuits business in Poland to Danone. Shoppers at Leeds Co-op's revamped store in Headingley are being given the chance to decide whether it will start trading 24 hours a day. Holland & Barrett has instituted High Court proceedings against Efamol and its parent company Scotia Holdings. The case centres on the sale of evening primrose oil products in discount stores in packaging alleged to use Holland & Barrett's name and style. Prepco Foods, the Skelmersdale based supplier of prepared raw vegetables, has been acquired in a £2.5m management buyout led by part owner Stephen Rogers. {{NEWS }}