Tesco has offered £54m to Adminstore for 45 of its London-based convenience stores, trading as Europa, Harts and Cullens, to be rebranded under its Tesco Express format.

The news will ramp up the battle for the £21bn c-store market among the UK’s biggest supermarket operators, with regional grocery chains such as Jacksons in the north and Smile Stores in the south west of England ripe for takeovers, according to The Times.

The Daily Telegraph said the move by Tesco - which takes £1 in every £8 spent in all British shops - has angered rival convenience stores operators.

Chief executive of the Big Food Group, Bill Grimsey, said Tesco was “exploiting the flawed 'two market' definition to make acquisitions that are not in the long-term interests of consumers" and wants the competition authorities to investigate.

Tesco told the paper that it had a very good competition case. “We have a small share of the convenience market at 6% - and there are lots of other shops around.”

The Guardian said the Association of Convenience Stores had also called for an inquiry by the Competition Commission.

While Federation of Wholesale Distributors, director general, Alan Toft said: “Tesco's ruthlessness in its ambition to dominate the local store sector, reflecting its superstore dominance, is now being exposed.”

The Consumers' Association told the paper that most shoppers would welcome a Tesco convenience store being located near them.

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