Tesco could be about to take a bite out of the Big Apple, The Grocer can reveal.

Industry insiders claim the retailer is looking to purchase the 16-strong Food Emporium chain in New York with a view to taking Fresh & Easy to the East coast.

The upmarket US chain, which is famous for its fine food, was put up for sale by Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co earlier this month, with US investment bank Peter J Solomon leading the search for a buyer.

A US-based supplier said Tesco was being widely touted as a bidder.

It would be a good fit with the Fresh & Easy format, which will have 168 sites in Arizona, California and Nevada, by early 2011, he said. "It makes sense as the stores fit with Fresh & Easy and the deal would likely come with a ready-made distribution network," he said.

However, another supplier said Tesco would be too busy developing its existing operations in the west of the country to contemplate buying the chain.

"You can never say never, but Fresh & Easy is a distinctive model that has had a disappointing start. Tesco needs to sort this before it spends capital buying another chain."

Tesco said it did not comment on speculation.