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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007, 14:52 GMT
Tesco upbeat on competition probe
Tesco trolley
Tesco is the UK's largest supermarket group
Tesco has said it would be "surprised" if a competition probe into the UK's supermarkets calls for it to sell off some of the undeveloped sites it owns.

The firm was responding to a Sunday Telegraph article which said the Competition Commission may call for Tesco to give up some of the plots.

Tesco has the largest land development portfolio of all the supermarkets.

The Competition Commission is due to publish its initial findings into the supermarket sector later this month.

'Flexible and innovative'

According to the Sunday Telegraph, at least two of the Competition Commission's six panel members looking into the supermarket sector want the main companies to give up some of the land they own for further development.

They are said to consider the big "land banks" to be barriers to new players entering the marketplace.

Tesco's executive director Lucy Neville-Rolfe said the company would be surprised if the Competition Commission hurt consumers by "penalising competitive success".

"Tesco's land pipeline reflects our flexible and innovative approach, which goes with the grain of government policy," she said.

"We build stores of different sizes, often in deprived areas and on contaminated land others won't touch and parcel together sites so we can invest in town centres, always taking risks on planning approval."

Tesco is the UK's largest supermarket, with a market share of 30%.

The Competition Commission was unavailable for comment.

The Green Party's principal speaker, Derek Wall, said it was essential that the Competition Commission looked at the development land owned by the main supermarkets.

"With one in eight pounds spent in UK shops contributing to Tesco's profits, it's fatuous to pretend that they'd be surprised if the Competition Commission acts to hinder their monopolies growth," he said.


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