Members of United Co-operatives have voted to increase the borrowing mandate of the company, putting the retailer in a stronger position to bid for Somerfield.

United Co-op tabled a surprise offer for Somerfield earlier this month but analysts were concerned that the society would not be able to raise enough finance for the deal.

However, United Co-op members yesterday voted 97% in favour of increasing the borrowing power of the company.

Earlier this month United Co-op revealed that it had approached Somerfield’s board of directors in order to discuss the possibility of making an offer for the business.

The group also said that it was not intending to partner with other potential bidders after media reports suggested that this could be United Co-op’s plan of attack.