SOUTHERN Co-op is to acquire a total of 14 Spar and Nisa convenience stores in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Cornwall. Completion is scheduled for the end of September.
Currently, 11 of the stores trade as Spar and three as Nisa. Six of the stores also have Post Offices, which will be retained.
The stores, which are currently operated by the family-owned Greenstead Developments and RNS Partnership, range in size from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet and will continue trading without interruption throughout the takeover.
Graham Bennett, Chief Executive of Southern Co-operatives, said: "The new stores will remain at the heart and soul of the communities in which they trade. We are looking forward to welcoming 220 new colleagues to our family of co-operative businesses.
"Whilst completion is scheduled for the end of September, we have learned from previous acquisitions that it is important to change as little as possible in the early days to better understand the business and the key strengths within it. This will enable us to work out where we need to add to the customer proposition through increased investment.
"We will also look at the locations and determine how to best service the stores and integrate the business into our existing network, but for the time being it will be business as usual with existing suppliers and trading arrangements staying in place."
The Spar and Nisa stores have a small head office team based in Frome, Somerset, and Southern Co-operatives will be working closely with them over the coming months to understand the role they play in supporting the business.
Charles Miller, Southern Co-op's Senior Area Operations Manager, said: "Our priority will be to plug the gap created by the family members who are the current owners and will be leaving the business."
A spokesman for the GDL/RNS Group commented: "The business was not up for sale when Southern Co-operatives approached us. But, as the industry has become increasingly competitive, we decided it would be in the best interest of our stores and staff to become part of a bigger and better-resourced operation to take the business forward."
Last year, Southern Co-operatives acquired the David's group of eight stores on the Isle of Wight and recently opened its 100th store – more than 40 of which incorporate a Post Office facility.
Added Mr Bennett: "The latest acquisition further demonstrates our commitment to providing
more neighbourhood stores with a strong focus on fresh food that can offer a real alternative to large stores located further away."