Dutch retailers Super de Boer and Schuitema could be set to form a purchasing joint venture, according to local reports.

A deal between Super de Boer, in which French retailer Casino owns a majority stake, and private equity-owned Schuitema, could be "imminent", Reuters claimed today (2 February), citing an anonymous source.

Officials at both Schuitema and Super de Boer could not be reached for immediate comment. Industry watchers, however, said that such a deal between the two firms was a logical move.

"If they do announce something, it will be on purchasing," Petercam analyst Fernand de Boer told just-food.

De Boer said Super de Boer, which sold off a block of 44 stores in 2007 to streamline its operations, is facing increased competition from the likes of industry leader Albert Heijn, which is owned by retail giant Ahold and Super Unie, an association of independent retailers.

"On the consumer side, Super de Boer is the fourth or fifth player but on the purchasing side, you actually have a lot of smaller players with stronger combined purchasing power with Super Unie," de Boer said.

"If you look at the scenario for 2009, with food inflation coming down and maybe likely to become deflation, and with rate costs still rising, and, up until now, the store base of Super de Boer getting smaller, you need to do something to protect your margins."