Dunnes Stores, the main rival to Tesco in the Irish Republic, is planning to open 42 new stores over the next two years, taking the family-owned chain's total estate to 160.

Twelve stores will open next year, with a further 30 scheduled for 2009. So far the locations have not been divulged.

The company has also decided on a rebranding, dropping 'Stores' from its fascias as part of a general revamp.

It is also seeking planning permission for a 66,630 sq m RDC in Donabate, Co Dublin.

The Dunnes expansion plans indicate the company, previously tipped in Ireland as a takeover target for Asda, is determined to overtake Tesco, which has seven new openings in the pipeline, increasing its Irish store total to more than 100. Between them, the two control almost half of the €12bn Irish groceries market.

According to the latest TNS Worldpanel figures, both increased their market share over the past year and together account for 49.7% of the market, compared with 48.4% a year ago.

Tesco has strengthened its position as market leader, increasing its share to 26.1%.

n Fresh, the upmarket Irish convenience chain, has postponed a fundraising drive by because of the global credit crunch.

The company had planned to raise €29m from private investors to finance an expansion.