So much for static sales. Who says the market is saturated? Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, is growing its estate faster than any of its rivals and it's turned up the heat this year with a dramatic increase in new construction contracts and planning approvals.

Data commissioned by The Grocer from construction analysts Glenigan shows Tesco has already awarded 47 new-build, extension or refurb construction projects, worth a whopping £300m, in the first seven months of 2010 already exceeding the number of contracts it awarded to construction partners in 2008 and 2009. The contracts account for 39% of all grocery retail construction projects by number and 49% by value.

While the biggest award of the year was Sainsbury's Bury St Edmunds development, it has signed only 14 new-build or extension projects, worth £127m versus 35 at £256m for Tesco. Morrisons has nine new-build or extension projects, worth £50.7m.

With the Competition Commission investigation now complete, the value and number of pipeline sites has also rocketed. The number of planning approvals rose 38% and the value of the 58 projects was up 130% in the seven months to July 2010. Tesco approvals account for 34% of all grocery retailing projects and a whopping 59% by value.

"The growth in construction projects this year has been driven by the supermarkets, and Tesco is the biggest driver surprising given its geographical saturation," said Glenigan economist James Abraham.

But King Sturge partner Stephen Springham said normal service had now resumed: "Tesco has never really taken its foot off the pedal. There was a lot of uncertainty while the investigation was ongoing, but it may have been that development opportunities weren't there because of the lack of available sites and competition for property."

Tesco was not available for comment.