Australian's biggest supermarket operator, Woolworths, yesterday indicated that it was likely to join the bidding for its main domestic rival, Coles. Financial Times

Coles put itself up for sale in February after issuing a profit warning. It struggled to win back market share, despite a reorganisation of its supermarket division. Last year it rejected a A$18.2bn (US$24.7bn) takeover bid from a group of private equity firms led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Woolworths also confirmed that it was increasing its lead over Coles in the Australian grocery sector, as sales rose 8.8% in the third quarter.

The supermarket division accounts for more than 80% of Woolworths’ revenues, and sales increased 7.8% in sales in the quarter year on year.