Sales at SuperValu, the Musgrave-owned supermarket franchise in the Irish Republic, grew by 10% last year to a record €2.2bn.

According to managing director Donal Horgan, who was speaking at the company's annual conference in Killarney, County Kerry, this week, the opening of nine new stores during 2007 contributed to the growth, but like-for-like sales still showed an 8% increase.

The group was also planning to spend €25m on eight new openings, with another €39m to go on revamping and extending 41 existing stores, he said.

The investment planned for this year would create 700 new jobs, bringing to 13,000 the total employed in the chain, he predicted.

Despite the "more uncertain economic climate", he was optimistic about the year ahead.

Horgan said: "We are confident that as a result of the focus on developing the brand and our offer to consumers, SuperValu is positioned to compete and to develop."