The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched an investigation into Morrisons’ proposed acquisition of 30 former Co-operative food stores.

The investigation is to determine the impact on the competition of any other market, although a decision has not yet been made.

The OFT will refer the case to the Competition Commission should the deal be seen to substantially lessen competition.

In January, Morrisons said it expected the deal to buy 38 stores from The Co-operative Group to complete early in the next financial year. The handover has been phased over a six-month period.

The acquisition was first announced last December, and is set to add half a million feet of selling space to Morrisons at a cost of GBP223m (US$355m).