Morrisons insisted it had still not received all bids for the sites, despite the fact that it had admitted to receiving unsolicited approaches for them as early as April (The Grocer, April 9, p8).
“We have invited offers on these stores, but no formal bids have yet been received,” said a spokesman for Morrisons. Tesco said it did not comment on speculation.
However, industry sources within the convenience sector are adamant that Tesco has indicated its intentions to acquire the stores. “Tesco is keen to get its hands on them to bolster its forecourt estate, especially as sites are hard to come by at the moment,” said one senior figure in the convenience store sector.
He said that given the Office of Fair Trading’s current three-tier definition of the grocery market, he thought it was unlikely that the move would be blocked.
The 61 BP/Safeway sites in operation were split between BP and Morrisons in April, with 31 going to BP and Morrisons retaining the remainder.