Retail entrepreneurs John Lovering and Bob Mackenzie have confirmed that they have shelved plans to bid for UK supermarket group Somerfield.

Their Springwater consortium made an offer of 120 pence per share, which was rejected last week.

The consortium had made a deal to sell 171 convenience stores in the Somerfield chain to supermarket group Sainsbury’s if its bid was successful.

Sainsbury’s has announced that it will file a merger notice with the Office of Fair Trading seeking clearance for the possible acquisition of those 171 Somerfield stores, “in order to reduce regulatory uncertainty in the event that Springwater wishes to bid again”.

Under City rules, both the Springwater consortium and Sainsbury’s are not permitted to bid for Somerfield for six months other than in the event of a recommendation by the Somerfield Board, or the announcement of a firm intention to make an offer for the company by a third party.

The board of Somerfield said it was “pleased that Sainsbury's and Messrs Lovering and Mackenzie have finally clarified their position and are not making an offer for the issued share capital of Somerfield.”

The board also emphasised that Sainsbury’s filing of a merger notice is “a unilateral act by Sainsbury's and is being made without the support of the Board of Somerfield.”