Wholesaler Appleby Westward Group has ­attributed its growing sales to the recruitment of better independent retailers to the Spar brand.

The sales of Spar's wholesaler for the southwest of England increased by 6.4% to £136.1m in the year ending 31 December 2009, according to results filed at Companies House.

AWG's pre-tax profits ­increased 55.9% to £2.9m in the same period, helped by a £2.5m reduction in administrative expenses over the year.

"The increase in sales is due to the company's strategy of recruiting better independents and continuing to develop their stores' retail standards," according to the ­directors' report.

AWG opened three Eurospar small supermarket stores at the end of 2009, its first company-owned stores. Two of these are to close after mults moved in nearby.