C-store operator S-Mart has branched out into the forecourt sector, having leased two sites in Frizington, Cumbria and Hyde in Manchester.
The variety store operator, which was formed in November 2002, has six company-owned stores and oversees 70 more, now including the forecourts, under leasehold franchise from its Accrington HQ.
Most of the shops sell general household goods, but 20 are c-stores. It could pose a challenge to other independent retailers in The Grocer Top 50 list. The company has also been looking for franchisees for two stores in Stoke on Trent and Rotherham.
Its outlets, which vary in size, are located across the UK, but the majority are in the north west of England and south Wales. The forecourts are supplied with petrol under contract with Texaco and stock a full convenience offering.
The retailer said that it had an agreement with a property development company to secure the leasehold on newly acquired sites. A company spokesman said: “We do the stores up and secure the stock and staff.
“Once they are up and running we decide whether to operate them ourselves or lease them out. We were looking around for properties on the market and we came across these forecourt stores. They represent our most recent deal. It’s a bit of a departure for us, but we’ll see how it goes.”
He did not rule out securing further forecourt sites.
Ahold said that it could be interested in buying parts of Albertsons, the US supermarket chain that is considering putting itself up for sale. Anders Moberg, chief executive of Ahold, said: “I’m not interested in Albertsons as a whole, but there might be some parts that would fit into where we are lacking.”
Ahold has, meanwhile, completed the acquisition of 56 stores in the Czech Republic from Julius Meinl.

Italian dairy giant Granarolo confirmed that it was interested in making a bid for Parmalat. Other potential bidders for Parmalat, which was relisted on the Milan Stock Exchange this week, include the French dairy giant Lactalis.
Meanwhile, Parmalat is claiming damages of 17.1bn from Credit Suisse First Boston, claiming it contributed to its collapse in 2003.

US rum, wines and spirits maker Cruzan International has been acquired by Absolut Spirits for $28.37 per share. Five Cruzan directors, including president and CEO Jay S Maltby, will resign and be replaced by four directors from Absolut.

Wal-Mart has confirmed that it is to make Japanese retailer Seiyu a full subsidiary this year. Wal-Mart said that it had ploughed a further $614m into the group to increase its stake from 42.4% to more than 50%.

Health and beauty retailer AS Watson has acquired Russian health and beauty retail chain Spektr Group. The acquisition marks AS Watson’s expansion into Russia and is in line with the group’s long-term plan to expand into Eastern Europe. AS Watson opens its first store in Estonia this month.
Rod Addy
n Albertsons eyed
n parmalat bid?
n cruzan acquired
n seiyu subsidiary
n russian plans