(Dec. 29) Tesco, the giant British retailer, is buying up and leasing property in the Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., area and plans to open its first supermarkets there in 2007, local development officials told the East Valley Tribune.

Tesco would not comment, but Paul Katsenes, deputy director of community and economic development in Phoenix, told the Tribune, “They’ve made up their mind. They’re out looking for sites.”

Tesco reportedly has acquired four parcels in Mesa and also was scouting sites in Scottsdale.

A spokesman for Bashas’ Inc. in Chandler said Tesco entering the already-saturated market would result in a major fight for customers.