Brakes has attempted to buy its rival DBC Foodservice but been told the company is not for sale, The Grocer can reveal.

Iceland boss Malcolm Walker, one of the main shareholders of DBC, confirmed Brakes had made an approach in the past few weeks but said he and the other shareholders were not interested in selling.

"Brakes has been talking to us but we are trying to grow the business we think it's a real opportunity," he said. "It wasn't a particularly successful business and we can bring a lot to it. There are synergies with Iceland DBC will benefit from Iceland's advice and buying power."

Walker bought DBC with two other members of the Iceland board in May for £1. Since then, they have used their expertise and Iceland's buying power to expand its frozen range and aggressively compete for high-street catering contracts pitting it against foodservice giants Brakes and 3663.

A senior figure in the wholesale industry said an acquisition would make sense given the precedent set by Woodward Foodservice. "Brakes bought Woodward to take a competitor out of the market, but now DBC has stepped into Woodward's shoes by strengthening its frozen range and is disrupting the market by winning high-street contracts at low prices," he said. "It's not surprising Brakes is trying to buy DBC, just like it bought Woodward."

Other sources, however, questioned why Brakes, which already has £1.5bn of debt on its books, would want to make another acquisition.

If Brakes did buy DBC it would be the second time in recent years that a company had tried to merge DBC and Woodward Foodservice as part of the same business.

Woodward Foodservice bought DBC in 2006 to form the Woodward Group. However, attempts to integrate the two were unsuccessful and Woodward Foodservice was sold to Brakes for an estimated £22m in September 2008.

Brakes was unavailable for comment.