Tesco is believed to have taken the latest step in expanding its £13bn overseas empire by lodging a bid to buy a chain of discount stores in the Czech Republic. The Times

The move would make Britain’s biggest supermarket the largest grocery retailer in the Central European country and hand Tesco its first convenience stores in the Czech market.

It also falls in line with Sir Terry Leahy’s stated ambition of seeing Tesco’s international arm generate half the group’s overall revenue within the next five to ten years.

The Tesco chief executive told The Times last month that he believed that the international unit was 'coming of age'.