Martin McColl has bought c-store chain Smile Stores - just two weeks after The Grocer revealed it was the favourite to acquire the Bristol-based company.

Martin McColl has been targeting a major acquisition for more than a year, but previous potential deals have stumbled over price.

"The acquisition of the estate will enhance our position," said Martin McColl chairman James Lancaster. "We are committed to further developing our c-store estate."

Speculation had been rife over the future of Smile after its parent company, wholesaler T&A Symonds, was bought last month by delivered wholesaler Palmer & Harvey McLane.

Martin McColl would not reveal what it had paid for Smile, which owns 92 c-stores across the south west, or whether it intended to rebrand Smile to its own McColl's fascia.

However, experts said this was likely following the company's rebranding of its entire 1,250-strong estate in just 10 months last year.