Lothian Borders & Angus Co-op has beefed up its estate with nine Somerfield stores in Scotland.

The shops measure from 1,450 to 3,460 sq ft and are in locations ranging from Blackburn to Aberdeen.

Most are thought to be former Aberness stores that were bought by Somerfield when it took over that company in March 2004.

Before the acquisition the society had 45 food shops in Scotland, from Galloway to Forfar.

The Galashiels-based society said the deal represented one of its largest acquisitions and significantly expanded the northern border of its operations.

The stores are expected to transfer to the co-operative in August. Gordon Wilks, the society's property controller, said: "This purchase is a logical move for us since the stores are adjacent to our trading area. We look forward to investing in them and developing our presence in Aberdeenshire."

Somerfield said it was still committed to building its presence in Scotland.