New Zealand’s leading supermarket group Foodstuffs is attempting to buy 10% of the discount retailer The Warehouse.

Foodstuffs said it had already succeeded in acquiring 4.2% of The Warehouse, at NZ$5 (US$3.14) a share, but it was not seeking board representation. The Warehouse said that the bid from Foodstuffs was “not in the best long-term interests of the company”.

The move by Foodstuffs could mark the beginning of a bidding war for The Warehouse. It has been suggested that Foodstuffs’ principal rival Woolworths may also be preparing a move for the company, while Wal-Mart, Tesco and the Australian group Coles Myer have also been mentioned as possible bidders for the discounter.

However, The Warehouse’s founder Stephen Tindall stated that his 52% stake in the company was not for sale, adding that he had not received any approaches.

Foodstuffs (NZ) managing director Tony Carter was quoted as saying that he was not disappointed that the company’s move had fallen well short of its 10% target. “$65m is a substantial investment,” he said. “We are relaxed about it. It is a very tight (share) register. There is not a lot of free float.”