Sales in the Musgrave-owned Centra chain of convenience stores in the Irish Republic rose by 17% last year to a record €1.2bn.

The surge in sales was attributed to new store openings, a revamp of existing stores, in-store innovations and a general repositioning of the Centra brand.

A total of 47 new Centra stores were opened last year, including the 400th outlet in Parnell Street, Dublin.

This represented an investment of €51m by its independents, said Donal Horgan, MD of Musgrave SuperValu-Centra, adding that 37 more would be added this year as a result of further openings and transfers from other symbol groups. Brand repositioning had involved a range of new initiatives including smoothie and juice bars, a summer eating range and salad bars, as well as new in-store services such as touchscreen automated ordering of food-to-go, electronic menu boards, wi-fi access for customers, plasma television screens and phone chargers.