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Somerfield epic returns for fresh bids

CONTRACTS: MERSEYSIDE

CONTRACTORS are losing patience with one of the country's biggest supermarket chains in a marathon chase for a £21 million warehouse deal on Merseyside.

The saga of the St Helens warehouse began in 1999 when retail chain Somerfield originally tendered the contract for the distribution warehouse, calling up Galliford, Birse, Tilbury Douglas, Bowmer & Kirkland and Lincolnbased Simons to price the scheme.

But since then there have been lengthy delays while Somerfield examined alternative sites for the development and eventually decided to re-tender the project.

Simons walked away from the job late last year when it realised it would not be able to compete with the other contractors' prices.

After talks with Galliford and Tilbury Douglas about building the centre elsewhere, Somerfield has finally settled on St Helens and reopened the race to the four remaining original bidders.

One bidder said: 'This has been a bit of a farce, but Somerfield is a big client.'

The four firms will return tenders for the nine-month scheme in September. Somerfield is expected to select a preferred contractor in October.