Spar retail group Tates has pledged to invest millions of pounds this year on new stores and refurbishments.

MD Geoff Hallam said 20 new stores would open this year, bringing its estate to about 225 stores, while 30 more would be refurbished. One would include the conversion of a convenience store to the larger Eurospar format.

Tates opened the first two Eurospars on the mainland last month, in Sheffield and Nottingham. Hallam said they were trading well.

"Strong businesses invest, even in recessions, and we are getting ready for growth for when the recession ends," he said.

In the year to May 2009, Tates' accounts were expected to show turnover up 5% to £288m, while pre-tax profits had fallen by 7% to about £5m, he added.

"The recession in the second half of 2008 was much worse than we had expected and we had to ask our managers to cut costs," he said. "Although we had budgeted to make more than £5m, the budgets were set before we knew what was going to happen to the economy. We are absolutely delighted with the figure we achieved."

He also said Tates had invested £500,000 in a new Torex system to help manage staffing, which hit the group's bottom line.

Hallam declined to reveal targets for this term but said fine weather over the past four weeks had got the year off to a flying start, with like-for-like sales in the past month up 6.8%.