Irish grocer Musgrave will invest EUR200 million (£136.2 million) in upgrading its store portfolio this year, in an initiative that will create 1,200 jobs.
The retailer, an umbrella group for independent retailers in Ireland and the UK, is 25 years old this year. It plans to increase SuperValu and Centra store numbers further.
Musgrave expects to open 10 SuperValu supermarkets and 40 Centra c-stores by the end of the year, taking numbers to 550 in Eire alone.
Musgrave SuperValu-Centra managing director Donal Horgan forecast sales of EUR2.65 billion (£1.8 billion) for the two businesses this year and a 24 per cent share of the Irish grocery market.
Horgan said Musgrave's business model has been key to its success. 'We have progressive, independent retailers working in partnership with Musgrave, giving us the flexibility to compete with multi-nationals, while retaining the quality and service advantages of local ownership,' he said.
Musgrave group managing director Seamus Scally added: 'Working in partnership with Musgrave, these progressive retailers brought the supermarket business in Ireland to a 50/50 footing with the multiples - an achievement that is still unique in Europe.'
Musgrave is to open a EUR35 million (£23.8 million) distribution warehouse next month at Kilcock, Co Kildare, which will be fully operational early next year.
The retailer attempts to maintain strong links with Irish suppliers.
Some 75 per cent of purchases made by SuperValu and Centra come from suppliers in the country.
In the past two years, Musgrave has acquired Budgens and Londis in the UK.