The BWG Group, owner of Spar and Mace franchises in the Irish Republic, is planning a major sell-off of stores to retailers.

As much as €90m worth of property is be sold, mostly in Dublin, company CEO Leo Crawford has revealed. The BWG Group's property division currently owns or leases 167 retail properties in the Dublin area.

Crawford said: "Up to 40 franchisees have taken up an offer to buy their premises, which will result in us selling €90m worth of property to our retail partners."

The group reported operating profits of €54.9m from its grocery business last year, up 18% on 2004 figures. "A strong performance from our key symbol brands, Spar and Mace, reinforced our position as the leading convenience food retailer in Ireland," said Crawford.

The group's retail network includes 428 Spars and 138 Mace stores, and it plans to add 80 more over the next two years. BWG also plans to extend a new store format to more than 200 Spar outlets.