Sainsbury's buys stores from Co-op

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The Independent Online

Sainsbury's has acquired 24 stores from the Co-operative Group for £83m. The UK's third-largest supermarket has bought 22 Somerfield stores and two Co-operative stores. The Co-operative was forced to sell 133 stores after it acquired the local grocery chain Somerfield for £1.5bn, and has already sold other stores to Waitrose, Morrisons and Tesco.

"We are delighted to acquire these stores which are an excellent addition to our store estate and we are pleased to welcome 1,400 new colleagues to Sainsbury's," Sainsbury's chief executive, Justin King, said yesterday. The grocer will incur a further £45m of costs to fit out the stores.

Mr King said the acquisition would marginally hit the supermarket chain's earnings this year, but would be earnings-enhancing in 2010/11. The stores, which it will convert to Sainsbury's Local, include 13 freehold and long-leasehold stores. The deal, conditional on approval by the Office of Fair Trading, should be cleared in May and conversion will take three months.