WORK on rebranding the 76 newly-acquired Balfour convenience stores into the Co-operative Group's Welcome store livery is not expected to start until autumn 2004.
A £ 16 million refurbishment programme was announced last week after the Group's successful bid to buy the c-stores and 35 newsagents' shops in London and the south was made public. However the demands of the ongoing Alldays rebranding campaign means that the Balfour outlets will be operated as a stand-alone business for the next year.
A Co-operative Group spokeswoman told the News: "The re-branding of the stores is expected to take place in two phases. The convenience stores will be refitted in the second year and the newsagents in the third year."
All 1,500 Balfour staff – including 72 based at the group's head office in Hayes, Middlesex – have transferred their employment to the Co-operative Group, but question marks remain about the long-term future of the newsagents outlets and the Balfour HQ.
In relation to the suitability of the newsagents in the long term, the spokeswoman added: "We will run the business in its current format until we have assessed the CTN operation properly and decided conclusively on the best method of operating these stores and developing an appropriate offer."
Meanwhile two Co-operative Group executives, David Mockford and Neil Braithwaite, have taken over as Chief Executive and Chairman of Balfour following the departures by mutual agreement of Mike Taylor and Charles Brim.