Four medium-sized Japanese supermarket operators have agreed to merge to create the biggest chain in the north of the country.

With combined annual sales predicted to be in the region of JPY100bn (US$1.02bn), the merger of the Takayanagi, Supermarket Maruichi, Belle Plus Co and Itoku supermarkets will form the as yet unnamed new retailer. 

The far north of the Japanese island of Honshu is dominated by Iwate Prefecture-based Universe Co. in terms of supermarket sales.

The new retailer will far outnumber those of Universe in all the northern prefectures.

The deal follows a similar move earlier this month by food retailers in the west of Japan.

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