The Co-operative Group has started the process of selling some of its recently acquired Somerfield stores, a spokesperson told just-food today (12 August).

Reports have suggested the retailer is set to sell off 107 stores, however the company declined to comment on the exact number.

"We were clear when we announced the deal that it was likely there would be a disposal of some stores in order to comply with the requirements of the OFT and others that did not fit into our retail strategy," the spokesperson told just-food. "We have made some approaches to potential buyers and interested parties but I can't confirm who at this stage."

The Co-op acquired fellow UK retailer Somerfield in a deal worth just under GBP1.6bn (US$3.2bn) in July.

Upon announcement of the deal, chief executive Peter Marks said: "This is a transformational deal, cementing our position as the UK's premier community retailer and helping us significantly as we lead a renaissance of the Co-operative brand."

Marks admitted there was likely to be "some local competition issues" but said he was "confident" the Co-op can work with the UK's Office of Fair Trading to iron out any problems.

According to reports, a deadline of 22 August has been set for bidders to outline their preliminary proposals.