The Co-operative Group plans to run the newly acquired Balfour chain of stores as a standalone unit while it gets on with the task of merging former Alldays stores into the business.
Co-operative Group chief operating officer Malcolm Hepworth said he had no qualms about taking on another chain while the integration of Alldays was only just starting.
"It is a profitable, cash-generating business, and we have kept all the management in place except chief executive Mike Taylor and chairman Charles Brim. We can just keep it running as it is and take our time."
The society paid £30m for Balfour, comprising 76 c-stores and 35 CTNs, taking The Co-operative Group's store total to 1,829, just eight months after it acquired the 630-store Alldays chain.
Hepworth said the Co-operative Group planned to invest £16m in converting the estate to the Welcome c-store format, but added it would take time to evaluate the group. Then the stores would be "put into the queue" with the Alldays stores which are currently being converted at the rate of three a week.
However, four sites are at an advanced stage of construction and he said these would open as Welcome stores.
Hepworth also said the first badly needed investment was a new IT system, and until that was up and generating sales data, no moves would be made to alter the range or integrate it into the CRTG buying group.
Hepworth also revealed about 70 of the Alldays stores acquired in October would be sold on. He said stores in areas where the Co-operative Group did not have any membership or trading infrastructure would be sold on to other co-op societies with the Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester and Midland Co-ops each likely to acquire about 30 stores, and a handful of others being traded.
>>p31 The great c-store spending spree

{{NEWS }}