Variety chain Alworths is planning to open five new stores before Christmas.

The retailer, formed after Woolworths' demise, now has 17 stores but wants to increase this to 22 sites across the UK by the end of 2010, after initially targeting former Woolworths stores in the south east of England.

The Grocer understands stores will open in Newark, in Notts, Maidenhead in Berkshire and Lanark and Bellshill in Scotland.

Alworths opened its first store last November. It targets sites between 3,000 sq ft and 7,000 sq ft and sells everything from toys to pick'n'mix.