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Centra to open four stores as part of £12m Northern Ireland expansion

By Yvette Shapiro

Convenience store retailer Centra is to open at least four new stores in Northern Ireland this year, creating more than 120 full and part-time jobs.

It's part of a major expansion across Ireland by the company, which is part of the Cork-based Musgrave Group. Centra is to open 16 stores in the Republic in 2016.

The company, which had record sales of €1.54bn (£1.16bn) last year, said it will invest €16m (£12m) in the expansion. Centra currently employs nearly 11,000 people across 460 stores and has around 750,000 customers a week.

Managing director Martin Kelleher said: "2015 marked another successful year for Centra as leaders in the convenience market, with sales reaching €1.54bn. We are delighted to announce that our sales figures show a 1.6% growth on the previous year."

Centra has attributed its strong growth to the success of its new Live Well health strategy, which has reportedly added around €6m (£4.5m) in sales for the company since it was launched last July.

Mr Kelleher said: "We have introduced new ranges which consumers have responded well to, as well as highlighting nutritional benefits of our products to inspire customers to make healthier choices."

The supermarket chain has sold over 200,000 salad boxes, 1.4 tonnes of quinoa and an additional half a million pieces of fruit since the campaign began. It has reduced shelf space for fizzy drinks, in favour of products like coconut water and aloe juice.

Centra shops are owned by individual retailers under the Centra brand. There are 77 stores in Northern Ireland, employing 2,300 people.

Centra is part of Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland, the retail franchise division of Musgrave Group, one of Ireland's largest grocery and food distributors.

Family-owned Musgrave Group was founded in 1876 and is now one of the two largest private companies in Ireland.

It also operates the Supervalu and Mace brands in Northern Ireland, and in Great Britain it is behind the Budgens and Londis names.

The group has a wholesale business in Spain under brands Dialsur, SuperValu and Dicost.

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