The sale of 300 Co-operative stores - including five in Northern Ireland - has received the go-ahead from the competition watchdog. Convenience store chain McColl's struck a deal to snap up nearly 300 outlets from the Co-operative Group earlier this year.
The final clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) comes after the acquisition was first announced in July. The deal will see McColl's add another 298 stores to its 1,000-strong estate.
The five Northern Ireland stores affected by the deal are on Whitewell Road in north Belfast, Abbots Cross in Newtownabbey, Dunclug in Ballymena, Tandragee in Co Armagh and Main Street in Bangor, Co Down. It is understood that the rebrand will cost almost £9m to roll out nationally - averaging around £30,000 per store.
McColl's said it would not sell on the Northern Ireland acquisitions, but added it had no plans to buy any more stores in the province.
The CMA said in October it was investigating the deal to examine whether it would result in "a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK for goods or services".
Jonathan Miller, chief executive of McColl's, said: "This is a transformational deal that substantially accelerates our growth strategy and expands our neighbourhood presence for the benefit of our customers.
"We have a long history and proven track record of successfully integrating convenience stores into our estate, and we expect these newly acquired stores to make a significant contribution to our future strategic plans."
The group will start integrating the new stores into its estate in January and expects the shops to be converted to its branding by the end of next August.
McColl's recently unveiled its sixth year in a row of rising sales.