Tesco is facing an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading after allegations that the supermarket used a local retailer it had acquired previously as a ‘front’ for a major planning application.

According to the The Sunday Telegraph, an application for an 80,000 sq ft store in Barnstaple was submitted in the name of Brian Fords, an independent retailer Tesco had acquired the year before.

Tesco, whose name was absent from the application, currently operates a smaller out-of-town store in the area. The OFT will now investigation whether its purchase of the local business will create a monopoly in the area.

Although Tesco has not acted illegally over the application – which would be on the site of the current Brian Fords store – the retail giant has come in for criticism from rivals for underhand tactics.

Tesco said its primary aim had been to ensure job security for workers at the Brian Fords store.