The watchdog said Tesco, unlike rivals Asda and Sainsbury's, displayed 'a pattern of behaviour - consistent with the strategic holding of land to prevent entry (of competitors) into areas of strength.' The supermarket has also been criticised for giving 'misleading and incorrect' evidence on its land banks.
The UK's biggest supermarket is believed to own at least half of the free land holdings for supermarkets in the UK.
However, Tesco rejected the commission's findings and said: 'We simply don't recognise that behaviour at all. We don't hold on to any land. As soon as you have got the land it is costing you money, so you want to build your stores and get on with it as quickly as possible.' The CC is due to deliver its preliminary findings in September.
Separately, Friends of the Earth (FOE) has launched an online anti-Tesco advertising campaign, urging the public to support small, independent retailers. The ad uses a spoof of the grocer's tagline 'every little helps' and questions the retailer's ever-growing dominance. FOE supermarket campaigner Sandra Bell said: 'The 'every little helps' video is a frighteningly accurate depiction of Tesco's effect on local communities. Local shops simply cannot compete with Tesco's ever-growing dominance and many are being forced to close.'
The charity has also called on the Competition Commission to reduce Tesco's dominance in the grocery market.