Asda is expected to complete a deal with Morrisons to buy all 13 of its Safeway stores in Northern Ireland in the next few weeks.
The multiple has been attempting to find a way into both the north and the Republic.
Two manufacturers who supply both Safeway in Northern Ireland and Asda in Great Britain said they were expecting the deal to go ahead.
The MD of one of Northern Ireland’s leading ambient grocery suppliers said an Asda representative had made it clear he expected an announcement very soon.
A sales director for one of Northern Ireland’s leading snack companies agreed Asda’s arrival was imminent. “I don’t think anyone is under any illusions that we won’t see Asda here by the end of the summer.”
Industry sources in Northern Ireland say Asda plans a 90,000 sq ft site in Craigavon in partnership with a local property company.
At last week’s agm in Bradford, Morrisons chief executive Bob Stott ruled out a presence in Northern Ireland: “I am sure we will have something to say about the Northern Irish stores in the next few weeks.”
Asda has refused to comment on any move into Northern Ireland.