Haldanes steps up its store acquisition hunt
Haldanes Stores has almost quadrupled its estate this week with the acquisition of 13 ex-Somerfield stores from The Co-operative Group and it is now well on track to hit its target of 50 stores within four years.
The latest acquisitions, which are being financed through shareholder investment, follow the purchase of five stores from the society earlier this year. The retailer has started trading from three of them and a fourth is due to open on Tuesday.
More acquisitions were imminent, said chairman Arthur Harris. "People have been asking us why we are taking what they see as such a bold move in the face of a recession," he said.
"My answer is that this opportunity presented itself to us to acquire some excellent stores with some fantastic staff. It's as simple as that.
"We are in preliminary discussions with other supermarket operators throughout Britain on potential acquisitions."
Once the latest batch of stores open in February and March, Haldanes' presence will stretch from Wick in northern Scotland to Belper in Derbyshire.
Meanwhile, fellow newcomer Asco Stores is set to open its first store, in Warrington, today.
The 11,000 sq ft store is a former Woolworths and its main supplier will be Blakemore Wholesale. Asco aimed to open a further 11 stores by next summer, said MD Dave Laney.
"It takes a considerable effort to set up a business like this from scratch but now we are open in Warrington we can use this as a blueprint for future stores," he said. "We aim to open up to 30 stores across the north and northwest within three years and I do not see why we cannot achieve that.
"There are many retail properties in town-centre locations being made available on good terms. It gives a start-up business like Asco the chance to establish a foothold in this marketplace."
Laney added that the chain was being backed by private investors, as well as banking facilities from NatWest.
Haldanes, Asco & Alworths: counting on counter-intuition (28 November 2009)
First Haldanes store reports strong sales (28 November 2009)