Midcounties Co-operative Society’s acquisition of Top 50 indie Harry Tuffins earlier this year would create competition concerns in four local areas, the Office of Fair Trading has ruled.

The society, which snapped up the 10-store chain for an undisclosed sum in April this year, has offered to sell the four stores affected, which include two petrol stations.

The OFT is now considering whether to accept the sale.

“The OFT considers that the retail supply of groceries is an important service to a local area and this was evident from a number of third party comments received on this merger,” said OFT chief economist and decision maker on the case Amelia Fletcher.

“We are concerned that customers in the local areas identified would face an increase in prices and a reduction in choice and we are therefore considering the divestments offered by Midcounties to resolve these issues,” she added.

Tuffins was 23rd on The Grocer’s Top 50 ranking of independent grocery retailers, with sales of £68m and profits of £617,000 in the year to 31 January 2011.