The Competition Commission (CC) has instructed Somerfield to sell 12 of the stores it bought from Morrisons last year due to concerns over the level of local competition. Somerfield originally bought 115 stores, most of them under 15,000sq ft, from Morrisons as part of the Yorkshire grocery giant’s acquisition of Safeway. However, the CC has since looked into the local market conditions around 14 of these stores and concluded that in 12 locations there would be insufficient local competition were the deal to go ahead.

The 12 stores in question, which include a c-store in Filey, North Yorkshire, must now be sold, in the words of the official statement, to “suitable grocery retailers approved by the CC”.

Inquiry chairman Christopher Clarke said: “Following responses to our provisional findings, we have now concluded that Somerfield’s acquisition of 12 of the stores is expected to lead to a significant reduction in competition in their local markets. It is important for customers that competition in these local markets is restored and so Somerfield must now sell the specified stores to grocery retailers who are able to compete effectively on price, quality, range and service in these areas.”

Somerfield would not comment on the findings prior to a board meeting on September 8. An announcement regarding a possible takeover for the retail chain is also expected this week, with two separate groups of investors hoping to win the approval of the Somerfield directors.