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Safeway staff await bid news

PUBLISHED: 10:36 06 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 March 2010

STAFF at Felixstowe's Safeway superstore were today told not to worry about their jobs after reports that the company which owns Asda was secretly plotting to take over the company.

STAFF at Felixstowe's Safeway superstore were today told not to worry about their jobs after reports that the company which owns Asda was secretly plotting to take over the company.

Bosses at Safeway's London headquarters told the Evening Star that it was "absolute pure speculation".

The company was already fending off a huge number of calls after the story emerged overnight.

"It is absolute pure speculation and that is all we have to say on the matter at the moment," said a spokeswoman.

"Our management are looking at what has been written and if we think anything more needs to be said, then a statement will be issued."

Felixstowe's Safeway store and filling station in Grange Farm Avenue opened about ten years ago, and serves the west part of the seaside town as well as attracting shoppers from out of town.

It took time for the site to build up steady business, but now it is thriving at the heart of a complex which also includes a pub, church, health surgery, post office, pharmacy, and other shops.

Wal-Mart, which owns Asda, is said to be preparing a £2.8 billion bid for Safeway and is said to have already spoken to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to see if the deal would be permitted.

A Wal-Mart spokesman, interviewed on breakfast TV, would neither confirm or deny that the reports were true – further fuelling the speculation.

It is understood that if the takeover was to be allowed, then the OFT might insist that some Safeway stores were closed in areas where Safeway and Asda both had shops close by.

However, the Felixstowe store would not be affected by this as the nearest Asda is on the other side of Ipswich, and Tesco already has two superstores and several smaller outlets in the area without such conflict.

Safeway currently has 480 stores and employs 90,000 staff nationwide and is Britain's fourth biggest retailer with about ten per cent of the market.

Asda is the third largest retailer with about 15pc of the market. It has 245 stores and employs 109,000 staff. Its parent Wal-Mart employs 1.3m worldwide and reckons to have 100m customers each week.

Tesco, which has 729 stores, is Britain's biggest supermarket chain with 25pc of the market.

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