Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, has remained silent on rumours that has entered into talks to acquire Italian retailer Esselunga, which has reportedly been put on the market by the chain’s founder Bernardo Caprotti.

While Tesco has emphasised the importance of international expansion to its growth strategy, a Tesco spokesperson told just-food today (10 October) that the company was unwilling to confirm its interest in the Italian market. “This rumour has been circulating for a while now and its not something we can comment on,” the company said.

Esselunga has a network of approximately 130 outlets throughout Italy, reporting annual sales of EUR4.4bn (US$5.2bn) and net profit of EUR107m in 2005.