The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to investigate Tesco’s take-over of an independent supermarket in Barnstaple, Devon.

Brian Ford’s Discount store was bought by a property firm on behalf of Tesco in 2003. It was only in August that Tesco’s involvement was discovered.

“The OFT is currently investigating this acquisition under the merger control provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002,” said a spokesperson for the OFT.

Tesco said that it had not broken any laws and offered full co-operation with the OFT.

Local retailer and councillor Lesley Brown is delighted that the OFT is investigating. “People will be pleased that the investigation is taking place. If Tesco is allowed to build another store it will have a huge impact on other retailers here.”

She also sympathised with the staff of the Brian Ford store. “I feel sorry for staff who knew nothing about the matter and may lose their jobs,” she said.