The German retailer, Rewe, has bought Curti & Co, which owns 53 per cent of the Swiss food retailer, Bon Appetit.
The move comes several months after Carrefour, another European distribution giant, launched its own assault on the Swiss market.
Bon Appetit is the third-largest retailer of food and household goods in Switzerland and has a workforce of about 5,000. Its businesses include catering supplies and food franchise outlets.
Rewe, which is based in Cologne, bought Swiss-based Curti & Co's Bon Appetit shares at SFr78.70 each ($60.16).
In purchasing a majority holding in Bon Appetit, Rewe, itself the third-largest retailer in Europe, will increase its international presence to 12 European countries.
Meanwhile, the German company's turnover is expected to rise to SFr15 billion as a result of the purchase.
"With the Bon Appetit Group we can close the gap in our portfolio of countries between Germany and Italy, as well as between France and Austria," said Hans Reischl, chief executive of Rewe.
Rewe is now planning to make an offer for Bon Appetit's remaining stock.
The Cologne-based company plans to offer Bon Appetit's public shareholders SFr60.80 per Bon Appetit share.
This is 25 per cent more than the average share price over the past month. The price values Bon Appetit at about SFr230 million.
Rewe said in a statement that Bon Appetit would retain its management team and brand, following the deal.
In September last year, the French-based retailer, Carrefour, announced plans to build ten new hypermarkets in Switzerland.
The announcement caused consternation among Switzerland's leading food retailers Migros, Coop and Denner, and sparked fears of a price war.
Until recently, the Swiss food retail industry has been the preserve of Swiss firms, with prices well above the European average.
swissinfo with agencies
Bon Appetit is Switzerland's third-largest retailer of food and household goods.
Last year Bon Appetit had sales of SFr3.2 billion.
Rewe is Europe's third-largest retailer in Europe, with total net sales of SFr57.5 billion in 2002.