The last Competition Commission industry report in 2000 recommended that if any of the big five wanted to buy a store bigger than 11,000 sq ft within a 15-minute drive of one of its exsiting stores, it should need OFT consent. In urban areas the catchment is 10 minutes.
In Scotland 94% of both Sainsbury and Asda's stores are within a 15 minute drive of a Safeway store, according to research for The Grocer carried out by analyst CACI.
Three quarters of Asda's stores in the east Midlands are within 15 minutes of a Safeway, while 57% of its London stores are within this proximity and 61% of its south west stores.
Sainsbury has 51% of stores in London within 15 minutes of a Safeway while Morrisons' few stores in London are closely located to Safeway. If Tesco were to enter the frame there would be 68% of its stores in the south east within the 15 minute catchment.