Sainsbury’s picked up four stores from Somerfield this week as it kicked off its renewed focus on growing sales space.

In May, Sainsbury’s chief financial officer Darren Shapland said the supermarket had neglected its store pipeline during the past few years and had been slow to increase its development sites.

This acquisition is expected to be the first in a number of new stores and extensions as the retailer aims to add between 1.5% and 2% of new space, giving 4% to 5% space growth annually. It also announced this week that it had acquired a 35,000 sq ft new build store in Urmston, Manchester. It is also due to open a newly acquired 20,000 sq ft Safeway/Morrisons store in Crystal Palace next week.

“This is an example of the opportunities starting to emerge and we will continue to look for new sites across the UK,” Shapland said this week.

The four sites - in Cornwall, Essex, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire, which were not part of the Safeway acquisition that Somerfield was forced to divest - range from 15,900 sq ft to 23,000 sq ft.

A spokesman for Somerfield said it was continually analysing its store portfolio, but this did not mark a wider sell-off.