Irish independent retailer Kavanagh Group is expanding its 17-store estate with two new stores.

The chain - which runs four Budgens stores in West Sussex, two Supervalu stores in Northern Ireland, and a further nine Supervalu stores in the Republic - said it was looking to buy two former Somerfield stores from The Co-operative Group.

Managing director Noel Kavanagh said the purchase would come despite "very challenging" conditions for retailers both in the UK and Ireland.

The group bought its four Budgens stores in 2005, signalling at the time that further stores could be purchased if those deals proved successful.

Noel Kavanagh recently told the Irish press that although sales at the stores were marginally down last year, they were continuing to trade profitably.