The battle for Safeway could be over next week with the government considering making an early announcement on the supermarket takeover.

The Financial Times reported that the Department of Trade and Industry - which is looking at three controversial takeover reports from the Competition Commission - is keen to make an announcement on one of them ahead of the Labour Party conference, which starts on September 28.

It had been thought that the outcome would not be known until after the conference. But the paper said that potential bidders for Safeway have been told to be ready for next Thursday or Friday.