Safeway is to expand and rebuild its portfolio in Northern Ireland in a bid to drive up market share and see off competition from Sainsbury. It has applied for planning permission to build two new stores and replace and extend three of its 12 supermarkets. It is to go head to head with Sainsbury in the affluent side of south Belfast with a new 38,000 sq ft store close to Sainsbury's northern Ireland flagship in Hydebank. Safeway northern Ireland development consultant Stephen Deyermond said: "That part of Belfast is very underserved and Sainsbury is always severely congested. Planning permission is due by summer, unless we have to go for a public inquiry." Safeway has also submitted a plan for a new 27,000 sq ft store in Bangor, Co Down, and is to rebuild stores in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Ballyclare, Co Antrim and Strabane, Co Tryrone. It will not be targeting smaller towns, instead concentrating on opportunities in the city of Belfast and larger northern Irish towns. Deyermond said: "Sales are going up year on year for Safeway in Northern Ireland. We have 14% market share and are number two at Tesco. Our marketing leaflets and cut price deals are very popular with customers." {{NEWS }}