US discount retailer Target is reported to be looking for an acquisition opportunity in the UK retail sector.

Minneapolis-based Target has sent 15 executives to the UK in recent months to investigate possible acquisitions, it is reported.

Target is the second largest discount retailer in the US after global giant Wal-Mart, which now owns Asda in the UK. Minneapolis-based Target has 1,225 stores across the United States and is strongest in the West and Midwest. Last year it reported like-for-like sales growth of 4.4 per cent in its core chain, but earlier this year said it would sell two businesses that were dragging down revenue, the Observer reported.

With Safeway finally off the shelf, there is speculation that Sainsbury’s could become vulnerable to takeover. General merchandise discounter Matalan has also been touted as ripe for takeover.