Safeway could have to pay out a further £6m in loyalty bonuses for 2003 to prevent key staff from quitting as the takeover battle draws on.
The Independent said in unsourced report that the supermarket has already paid £6m in retention bonuses to 400 top employees since the five-way bid battle began in January.
The bonuses and £17m in banking and advisory fees reduced pre-tax profit at the group to £335m for the year to March 29 from £355m last year.

The paper also said that John Lovering and Bob McKenzie are to press on with their bid for Somerfield despite complications thrown up by the Competition Commission investigation into the bid for Safeway.