Sainsbury has announced that it will no longer be considering buying the 171 Somerfield stores from Springwater.

This follows the Competition Commission’s examination into the supermarket’s proposed bid.

Sainsbury’s chief executive, Sir Peter Davis, said: "I was disappointed with the outcome of the regulatory process. However, given the current level of regulatory uncertainty in the food retail sector, we have decided not to pursue the transaction any further."

Meanwhile, the Times reported that two of America’s biggest investors - Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Texas Pacific Group (TPG) - had separately examined making a bid for Sainsbury.

The paper said their interest indicated the weakness of the £5.6bn supermarket group and the struggle Davis will face to keep it independent.