WM Morrison is believed to be eyeing-up a clutch of Somerfield stores that are likely to be put on the market by the Co-op, which is in the process of purchasing Somerfield from its private equity owners.

The Co-op is looking to sell up to 200 Somerfield stores, according to property sources. Morrisons is known to be interested in buying a number of the outlets, although the exact figure is yet to be determined.

The 900-strong Somerfield chain has been put up for sale by its owners Robert Tchenguiz, the property entrepreneur, and the private equity groups Apax Partners and Barclays Capital.

Separately, Morrisons will tomorrow unveil first-quarter like-for-like sales growth of around 6.5%, outstripping the performance of its rivals.

Daily Telegraph