Somerfield is continuing to open new stores despite an expected imminent sale of the company to The Co-operative Group.

The supermarket chain, which has been up for sale since the beginning of this year and is currently in talks with the Co-op Group, opened stores in Crowthorne, Berkshire, and Grimsby this week.

Somerfield invested £552,000 in the 3,780 sq ft Grimsby store, which employs 30 staff. The refurbished Crowthorne branch has been updated with new technology including an electronic queuing system.

The news continues an investment plan that will see 250 new stores of between 2,000-7,000 sq ft open by 2010, a Somerfield spokeswoman said. A further 200 existing stores will be refitted over the next 12 months, while additions are planned for Brighton, Eastbourne, Bristol and Ipswich in the coming months.

A leading industry figure said Somerfield was "tarting the business up for a sale".