Kuwait-based Kout Food Group is to invest millions in turning its Nuts About Life business into a 20-store chain by 2009.

The company already operates two London stores - a 500 sq ft outlet in Hampstead, which opened in June 2006, and a 650 sq ft branch in Chiswick, which opened in January.

A third is to start trading in Kensington next week, and three more sites are lined up at Fulham Broadway, Holborn and Canary Wharf.

In all, £5m has been ploughed into setting up the first five Nuts About Life stores, which sell loose nuts, dried fruit and muesli, as well as fruit smoothies.

"We believe food shopping should be an experience, something new, something different," said operations director Gary Coleman.

"Our nuts are always kept at controlled temperatures and the way we grow and roast our products means that you just can't compare them with the likes of a Tesco or Marks & Spencer cashew nut."