Tesco has been accused of using the guise of a local retailer to submit a planning permission for an 80,000 sq ft supermarket.

The retail giant bought independent retailer Brian Ford's Discount Store, which has one store in Barnstaple, Devon, last year and submitted plans for the store under the name Brian Ford's Discount Store, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

“Brian Ford's Discount Store has traded in Barnstaple for over thirty years… the company has been actively involved in local commerce and has both an excellent reputation and a loyal and extensive customer base in the area,” the application stated.

Tesco denied any wrongdoing: “Brian Ford's is a local family run company,” a spokeswoman told the paper. “They did not want to cause uncertainty to their staff until it was clear if these plans would progress. The motivation was not to conceal Tesco's identity it was to help them maintain stability in their business.”

A decision on the application is expected within the next few weeks.

Brian Ford's Discount Store is ranked 40th on The Grocer's ranking of Top 50 independent grocery retailers with turnover of £17.8m and a pre-tax profit of £233,000 last year.