Former Asda chairman Archie Norman is reported to be planning to return to the retail sector with an operation established to buy up struggling store chains.

The Tory MP is expected to give up his Kent seat at the next general election to concentrate on business. Intense speculation has long hovered over the plans of Norman, who on Saturday said he was discussing his new project with bankers. He added: "After four and a half years I am looking forward to a return to business. I would like to get into a consumer business which specialises in turnarounds […] I have one or two ideas about a fund which could be in the form of a startup operation. The plans are about six months off at the moment".

While Norman declined to go into detail, the Sunday Express reported that the new business would specialise in taking over small and medium-sized retail chains. Some would be public companies that he felt required a delisting to prosper in the private arena