BWG, the Irish-owned retail group that runs the Spar and Mace franchises, is investing more than €30m in expanding and strengthening its wholesale operation in the Republic.

BWG Wholesale, a division within the group, operates a chain of 25 C&Cs across the country, supplying a network of independent outlets that trade as XL Stop and Shop. A number will be upgraded under the expansion plan and new stores will be added, said John Moane, MD of the division. In addition, preliminary work has started on a 55,000 sq ft distribution centre in north Dublin. The centre, due to open within a year, will have a staff of 70.

"The retail sector is changing quite quickly as people's lifestyles and the demographics change, and we want to ensure we are ahead of the game," said Moane.

As well as the C&Cs, BWG Wholesale also provides a range of foods to the hospitality sector including hotels, restaurants, pubs and caterers. "We are seeing a lot of growth in our foodservice division," said Moane.

The group's wholesale sector has an annual turnover of €385m and employs 400. Moane predicted that within five years sales would have increased to €400m-€500m. The group expects to open a number of new C&Cs was "on the look-out for acquisitions," he said.

The BWG group also operates 440 Spar outlets across Ireland and has already announced plans to increase that to 520 over the next three to five years.