CJ Lang chief executive David Walker is sticking with the claim he made in 2000 that CJ Lang would double the number of company owned stores by 2005, despite achieving no growth in numbers since then. The total, which at 53 is the same as it was two years ago, would top 100 by 2005, he told a Spar Scotland trading conference. Walker also said the group was set to reach its overall target of supplying 500 stores in the same timescale, but only if it included VG outlets. Walker admitted: "We have a long way to go to meet our targets." While CJ Lang had acquired company-owned stores during the past two years, it had got rid of others, he said. "If we had what we'd had in 2000 and not sold or closed any, we would be at 62 by now. "Some were sold because turnovers didn't reach what we wanted. Most were sold to independent Spar retailers and one was converted to the VG format." Walker said CJ Lang had problems in finding affordable stores on the right sites. "What's holding us up? Finding the right site at a convenient price. Good quality stores just don't come on the market. "We've looked at 94 sites in the past nine months and only two of those were possibles," he said. "We also wouldn't enter a direct bidding war with other Spar retailers." The VG identity is jointly owned by CJ Lang and Northern Ireland Spar wholesaler John Henderson. CJ Lang relaunched it in Scotland, offering retailers a low cost entry point to the symbol sector. Ed Ferguson, CJ Lang sales director, said 18 stores had been "reactivated" in this way, from a target of 50 set for April 2003. Walker said CJ Lang stores had seen 8% year-on-year sales growth in the 52 weeks to April 27 2002 on sales of £57m, but that wholesale sales had been static. He said the group had chalked up sales of £258m in the last financial year and was targeting between 5% and 8% growth this financial year. {{NEWS }}