Musgrave Retail Partners GB has finally sold its first former Somerfield store to an independent retailer.

The wholesaler snapped up 13 stores from The Co-operative Group in January 2009 and planned to sell them to independents under the Budgens fascia.

In August, Musgrave GB insisted the stores were "on track and achieving forecasts set" after sources told The Grocer sales were struggling. It was forced to sell one store to another operator because it "didn't fit the Budgens brand".

This week, Musgrave GB revealed it had also sold a store in Chingford to independent retailers Paul and Michelle Gravelle, who already own two Budgens shops. They have already increased weekly turnover at the 4,800 sq ft store from £60,000 to £70,000.

"It was important the stores should be sold to the right people, who would embrace the Budgens brand essence of 'Real Food for Today's Communities', and in Paul and Michelle, I have no doubt they'll make a success of the business and take it from strength to strength," said Budgens sales director Dan Quest.

However, others questioned why the sale process had taken so long, particularly as Musgrave GB is a franchise operator and did not run any stores itself ­before the acquisition.

"The 40% turnover [at Somerfield] of promotional goods took them by surprise," claimed one source. "They have seen sales plummet to a level that made them totally unviable to an indie retailer."