Sales for the year to April rose to £197m at Tates, the company ranked second in The Grocer top 50 independents. Tates, the company-owned division of Spar wholesaler AF Blakemore, pushed sales up from £172m despite store numbers remaining static at 181 after it sold 12 and bought 12 during the year. Speaking at the Tates managers' conference last week in Blackpool, md Geoff Hallam said the company spent just under £2.5m on acquisitions and £2.7m on refurbishment in 2001/2002. It also acquired six new post offices, taking the total to 33. He said the company had a target of 15 new stores a year and had scheduled a further 30 stores for refurbishment. Retail operations director Stuart Adkin said the company planned to spend £450,000 next year on staff training. {{NEWS }}