In September 2013, the then Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke called time on a decade-long ‘‘space race’’ that had gripped the UK grocery giants. He said UK shoppers had fallen out of love with large out-of-town supermarkets and were switching their shopping habits towards online, click and collect, and little and often trips to smaller convenience stores.

The space race in UK food retail took off in the early noughties and quickly developed into a near obsession for bosses of the UK’s largest supermarkets. At the vanguard of this race, which was measured in square feet, was the UK’s largest supermarket, Tesco.