A £5 MILLION land deal could see supermarket giant Waitrose open a flagship store in Holywood - in what would be their first outlet in Northern Ireland.
The Spectator understands that the retail chain is among the top bidders for the prime 4.5 acre rugby club and allotment site recently put up for sale in the town.
Waitrose is believed to be among four potential purchasers who had offers on the table when the final bidding for the site closed on October 20.
It is understood that the company is one of two bidders with offers in excess of the £5 million asking price, the other being a private hospital.
North Down Borough Council, which is selling the land, has tried to keep the identities of the companies involved a closely guarded secret.
However, rumours that Waitrose is coming to the site, which is off the busy Holywood throughpass, are openly circulating around the town.
Competing supermarket giants Tesco and Sainsbury already have major outlets on the outskirts of Holywood.