NORTHERN Ireland Co-op continues to expand in the convenience retailing sector with the acquisition of two stores.
It has purchased the Spar in Bangor's Groomsport Road and the HJ Steele shop in Castlewellan for undisclosed sums.
The Co-operative Group is investing a total of £ 800,000 in improving facilities at the stores.
The 2,600 sq ft Bangor store, which replaces an existing Co-op in Groomsport Road, now open for business as a Co-op with all 15 staff transferring their employment. The shop has been converted to the popular Welcome convenience format with modern décor, new fittings and refrigeration plus a more shopper friendly layout.
In Castlewellan, the former H J Steele shop is closed for renovation and will open on Monday, 20 March with all 29 staff transferring their employment to Northern Ireland Co-op. In addition, nine new jobs will be created. The store is being transformed to provide a modern shopping environment and a more comprehensive range, tailored to the needs of the local community.
The new acquisitions follow the purchase of three convenience stores by Northern Ireland Co-op in the latter part of 2005. More than £ 700,000 was invested in improving facilities at the shops, in Ballymena, Tandragee and Larne.