Five Northern Ireland Co-op stores to be sold under £117m deal
Five Co-operative food stores in Northern Ireland are to be sold as part of a UK-wide agreement.
The mutual said the £117m deal would see 298 smaller food stores across the UK snapped up by McColl's Retail Group, with money from the sale used to buy 100 new stores this year and 100 more stores in 2017.
The Co-op has 41 food stores in Northern Ireland.
The ones affected by the deal are on Whitewell Road in north Belfast, Abbots Cross in Newtownabbey, Dunclug in Co Antrim, Tandragee in Co Armagh, and Main Street in Bangor, Co Down.
A spokesman for the company said that the stores would continue to trade and that staff members' jobs were safe under the new owners.
Steve Murrells, chief executive of Co-op Food, added: "Today's announcement is completely in line with our strategy, as these stores did not allow us to provide a sufficiently compelling own-brand offer for our members going forwards.
"The proceeds will be re-invested to drive sustainable growth for our members, and I am delighted that all 3,808 colleagues will transfer to McColl's on the same terms and conditions."
The Co-op said it was selling the stores, which are 1,700 sq ft on average, because they are too small to stock all the firm's own-brand products, which have been key to driving up sales.
It added the move tied in with plans to grow the total number of Co-op members to a million by 2018, while pushing up the total sales from members to 50%.