UK grocery retailer Somerfield has reported group like-for-like sales down 1.8% in the first quarter, and said it is seeking to bring potential takeover talks to a prompt conclusion.

Group sales rose 17% for the 16 weeks to 20 August compared to the same period last year, driven by store acquisitions. However, group like-for-like sales fell 1.8%.

Like-for-like sales under the Somerfield banner edged up 0.3%, while like-for-like sales at Kwik Save declined 5.7%.

“Despite challenging trading conditions, the board is satisfied with the group’s progress. The refit and store conversion programme is continuing in line with strategy,” the company said.

On 31 March 2005, Somerfield announced that it had decided to enter into discussions with potential bidders about a possible offer for the company. Since then, there have been extensive discussions with a number of parties.

“Thus far, there has been no formal offer and, accordingly, the board is now seeking to bring the process to a prompt conclusion. There can be no certainty that an offer for the group will be forthcoming,” Somerfield said today [Friday].