There will be no shortage of bidders if the grocer A&P Canada comes to market.

Canadian supermarket operators Sobeys and Metro have made no secret of the fact they would seriously consider bidding for A&P, which analysts say could raise as much as C$1bn (US$660m).

A&P was once part of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co but was spun off last year and is now an operating division of A&P North America. The latter group is in turn a 56%-owned subsidiary of Tengelmann of Germany. A&P North America is known to be struggling and, while A&P Canada has not been put up for sale, speculation is mounting that a sale could be in the pipeline.

A&P Canada operates 239 stores in Ontario under a range of fasciae including Dominion, A&P, Food Basics and The Barn.

Sobeys is Canada’s second largest grocer, behind Loblaw, while Metro is the third largest. Both are keen to grow by acquisition, and both could use a stronger foothold in Ontario. Sobeys is based in Nova Scotia, while Metro is headquartered in Montreal. The chief executives of both groups have confirmed they would be keen to acquire any A&P Canada asset that became available.