Sales boosted by store acquisitions and forecourt retail
Somerfield reaped the benefits of stores acquisitions last year, announcing operating profits up 63 per cent to£66.4 million. Profit before tax for the 53 weeks to April 30 rose 63 per cent to£53.1 million.

The figures also reflect Somerfield's alliance with Texaco and Fuelforce forecourt retailing.

Like-for-like sales for the group fell 0.4 per cent, with Somerfield almost static at 0.1 per cent and Kwik Save sales down 1 per cent.

For the first nine weeks of the new financial year, Somerfield sales dropped 0.7 per cent and Kwik Save a more significant 6.4 per cent.

Somerfield chief executive Steve Back said: 'These results demonstrate the benefits of the continuation of our portfolio transformation strategy. We have made significant progress in delivering a quality, fresh, convenience-based offering for our customers. Kwik Save has been refocused on its heartland and we are repositioning its offer.

'Trading conditions remain challenging and we are sharpening our value proposition in line with recent market movements and continuing our store improvement programme.'

On Somerfield's much-speculated acquisition, Back said: 'With regard to a potential offer for the group, a comprehensive due diligence process has been undertaken, with substantial progress having been made by interested parties. Discussions have now reached an advanced stage. There can, however, be no certainty at this time that an offer for the group will be forthcoming.'