Wm Morrison, the UK supermarket group which recently acquired larger compatriot retailer Safeway, is planning to shut up to 12 stores.

The company was ordered by the Competition Commission to dispose of 52 stores as part of its £3bn (US$5.5bn) acquisition of Safeway, but it still owns 24 of these. The Telegraph reported at the weekend that Morrison has now applied for permission to 'retire' up to 12 of them rather than find buyers.

Morrison plans to shut some of the remaining stores because they are either in undesirable locations or in areas that are already well served by potential buyers. While Morrison is entitled to close the stores, intense competition in the sector dictates that the Competition Commission must approve such a measure on a store-by-store basis.

Meanwhile, the paper reports that Morrison is also reviewing indicative offers for the 120 smaller Safeway stores in its portfolio. Carlos Criado-Perez, the former chief executive of Safeway, is attempting to stage a comeback after making an initial offer, having teamed up with two other former members of the Safeway board, Lawrence Christensen and Jack Sinclair.