Spar Ireland, the convenience group controlled by BWG, has reported sales of €1.67bn for 2007, 15.7% up on the previous year.

Fifty-two new stores were opened during the year, representing an investment of €103m in partnership with its independent retailers.

Another 40 openings are planned for the current year, according to managing director Peter Kealy, who claimed the group was on target to have a 500-store network by 2010.

Last year, the first in which Spar opened more than 50 stores, was "just exceptional", he said. "To open one store a week is a massive undertaking. Our strategy is to create modern store layouts and improve food and beverage offerings through the development of bespoke product offerings."

A 'drive-thru' coffee facility would be launched shortly at one of its Spar Express outlets in Dublin and, if successful, rolled out across the Republic later this year, Kealy added.