The sale of Somerfield is going ahead, defying speculation that the auction had been abandoned. Sources said Robert Tchenguiz, part-owner of the £2bn supermarket chain, is still hopeful a sale can be agreed. Independnet on Sunday

The Co-operative group was thought to be the only bidder to have tabled an offer for the retailer before the first-round auction deadline earlier this month. Other interested parties, such as Asda, are keen to buy parts of the business, but are not likely to make a full offer.

However, a source close to Tchenguiz said: 'People are saying this is all over but it's not by a long shot. There's still a lot of interest in Somerfield and we expect further bids to come.'