In 1999 TM acquired the 700 store Martins group and Saunders said many of the people who worked on that integration were still with TM.
He said all staff would be retained and although a handful of stores overlapped with the existing estate, all Dillons stores would be kept open.
Over the past 18 months the venture capital companies that own TM, Electra and Montagu Private Equity and Management, have tried to sell the group. Retailers including the Co-op and Sainsbury have held talks.
However, analysts suggested the Dillons deal signalled a change in policy. One said: “Companies up for sale do not spend money on acquisitions.”
But they suggested Electra and Montagu would cash in on their investment by selling the c-stores while massive demand for such stores from the multiples has pushed prices sky high.
A spokesman for the owners said the c-stores were “the jewel in the crown” and would not comment.