Analysts have branded the Competition Commission’s provisional ruling that Somerfield’s acquisition of 115 stores from Morrisons in 14 areas of the UK damages competition as “madness”.

The Competition Commission said yesterday that the stores “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in 14 local grocery retail markets.”

Rhys Williams, an analyst at brokers Seymour Pierce, said: “This seems like madness to us, since the stores and locations are so small it hardly seems worth it.”

“How did the Competition Commission allow runaway market leader Tesco to acquire T&S Stores, a large convenience chain, without any review?” he added.

However, Peter Andrews, of law firm Shoosmiths, said: “It seems to me the Competition Commission has done a lot of detailed work on this from a national and local level and it looks to be a pretty good decision which will be difficult to challenge.”

Somerfield and other interested parties have until August 16 to respond to the provisional findings before the commission takes its final decision.