Competition in the grocery sector is flourishing, backing up a key finding of the Competition Commission’s inquiry, according to Verdict.

Tesco extended its lead over rivals last year for the ninth successive year, but its 0.8 percentage point rise to 27.6 per cent was its smallest market share gain since 2002, Verdict found. Asda achieved its strongest market share gain since 2004, up 0.4 percentage points to 13.7 per cent.

Verdict lead analyst Nick Gladding said: “Tesco’s share advance reflects a combination of solid like-for-like growth – including an increasing contribution from non-food – and physical expansion. In the current year to February, Tesco will open 1.8 million sq ft – 25 per cent more than the net space growth of Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons combined.”

The conclusion supports one of the key findings of the Competition Commission’s inquiry that the grocery sector is broadly delivering a good deal for UK consumers.

In 2007, Verdict estimates that the big four – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – accounted for 65.4 per cent of the£118.2 billion market, up from 63.6 per cent in 2006. Tesco’s market share is now exactly double that of Sainsbury’s.

Discounters Aldi, Lidl and Netto continue to build market share from a low base.