UK symbol operator Costcutter is set to expand into India and Pakistan through fascia- licensing agreements.

Costcutter executive chairman Colin Graves said talks with suitable partners for a franchise-based scheme were still at an early stage but he hoped to have the first Costcutter stores on the sub-continent up and running within six months.

The project would be run on a similar basis to the 111 Costcutter stores in the Republic of Ireland, operated under licence by Barry’s of Mallow, said Graves.

Stores could be run as convenience outlets or supermarkets, he added. “India and Pakistan are huge growth areas and represent a great opportunity for our brand. Some c-stores in India are turning over £50,000-£100,000 a week.”

There was a great demand for UK food in both countries and the expansion could benefit both Costcutter’s buying power and provide a further outlet for its own label range, he said.

Costcutter was also looking to accelerate its store developments in the Republic of Ireland and Poland, where there are currently 52 stores trading under the Costcutter banner. He ruled out moves into other countries for the time being, despite admitting he had been approached by potential partners in China and Israel. “We have to make sure we have the right partners and the logistics are practical,” said Graves. “At the moment India and Pakistan are the most feasible.”

n Costcutter is launching an education programme designed to help its independent retailers deliver better sales of fresh produce. The Fresh is Best initiative will advise retailers on how to maximise their sales and profits through waste control, ranging and promotional activity.