The Office of Fair Trading is examining Tesco's purchase of five Somerfield stores.

It has sent out an 'invitation to comment' asking whether the purchase of the stores, in Thurso, Bedlington, Little Lever, Ramsbottom and North Hykeham, “will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002”.

Last week, the Competition Commission provisionally ruled that Tesco's purchase of a Co-operative Group store in Slough, Berkshire, reduced competition and choice in the area.