Roys of Wroxham has been tipped as a potential buyer for four department stores put up for sale by East of England Co-operative Society.

Roys, which markets itself as the world's largest village store, operates seven stores in Norfolk and Suffolk. Its annual accounts last year showed it was "committed to seeking opportunities for additional stores" after being forced to close its Bury St Edmunds outlet in 2007 when the lease ran out and the landlord opted to redevelop the site.

East of England Co-op, which has 13 department stores in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, said in March that it planned to close four sites in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Clacton-on-Sea and Witham, Essex, as they were no longer viable. This week the society revealed it was in talks to sell the sites.

"We are in negotiation with another retailer to take over the four department stores that are at risk," said CEO Richard Samson. "We hope we can secure the jobs of our employees at the stores."

Roys would not confirm its interest but admitted it had a similar customer profile to East of England Co-op. Other mooted buyers include Anglia Co-operative Society and QD Stores.