Somerfield, part-owned by Robert Tchenguiz, has ambitious plans to open 250 new stores over the next three years and to increase its 900-strong store portfolio by more than a quarter. Sunday Times

Paul Mason, chief executive said he hoped to open 100 stores a year in 2009 and 2010 on top of 50 already earmarked for next year. The new stores are in addition to 60 knockdowns and rebuilds in the 2007-8 financial year.

The company, taken private in a £1.8 bn deal in January 2006 by a consortium of Tchenguiz, Apax and Barclays Capital, has been trying to build a clear niche by focusing on the local grocery market rather than competing with the likes of Tesco and Asda. Its private-equity owners have carried out a major restructuring of the business since the takeover.

Somerfield slimmed its store portfolio, selling off about 600 shops, including 225 Kwik Save discount outlets; reduced head-office jobs from 1,800 to about 800 and closed six out of ten distribution centres.