Waitrose chief Mark Price launched a scathing attack on Britain's biggest retailer this week, calling on the Competition Commission to prevent the UK turning into "Tesco Land".
Managing director Price was speaking on the eve of the opening of the new John Lewis food hall in London's Oxford Street. He said he feared the retail environment would be "very different" in years to come unless the commission moved to curb Tesco's growth when it announced the provisional findings of its groceries inquiry later this month.
Blasting the retail giant, Price said Tesco was "against competition" and used its vast cash reserves to keep other retailers out of the market.
"They are so aggressive and will buy everything to keep out the competition," he said.
"Waitrose, and all the other retailers, often go head to head with them over property, but they have such deep pockets.
"It's a challenge because there is so little property out there. Tesco has more
in its land-bank than Waitrose has trading space."
Price said he feared the market could be whittled down to just two major players if something wasn't done to prevent Tesco's march.
"In 20 to 25 years time, I wouldn't be surprised if it was just Tesco and Asda in the market. I think the Competition Commission needs to do something to stop this turning into Tesco Land. The commission needs to realise what is happening.
"The government should also be concerned about how vulnerable the country would be if all our food was controlled by one retailer."
His broadside against Tesco came just days after The Grocer revealed that CACI showed Tesco to be the most dominant supermarket in 81 of the UK's 121 postcode areas. It was followed by Asda, which had the largest market share in 19 postcodes.
Referring to comments Tesco had submitted previously to the groceries inquiry, Price said: "They say customers want choice and are choosing Tesco, but people will go to the store that's most convenient, so if there's a Tesco on every corner, that's where they will go."
Tesco also made lives hard for smaller rivals by using its financial might to sell products below cost, Price added.
"Tesco say they don't under-price, but they put millions into their offers and bombard people
with them, and that is how they stamp out the competition."
In a final snipe at its rival, Price claimed Waitrose had poached a number of Tesco store managers who were unhappy with working conditions.
"Our managers do five days a week, not six and a half like they do at Tesco," he said.
"Many are not happy about working these hours and so we've taken some off them. We realise there is a life/work balance."
Price, who became managing director of Waitrose in April, said the chain continued to go from strength to strength. Like-for-like sales in the current half-year, which began on 1 July, were already up by 5% year-on-year, he claimed, with total sales up 7.5%. "I would expect this growth to continue," he added.