Centra have announced plans to open 20 more stores over the next year. Overall, the new stores will employ 460 new workers.

The convenience store brand had a massive year in 2016, with profits of more than €1.5bn, up 3% from the previous year. This success has encouraged the brand to expand their operations. The announcement was made at the chain’s annual conference in Killarney.

The brand will continue to re-energise its store network with the aim of capitalising on the shift in convenience grocery stores towards healthier options for consumers. The chain, which competes with the BWG-owned Spar stores as well as Mace and Londis, is continuing to roll out its “Live Every Day” store design, which gives greater prominence to fruits and salad offerings.

Martin Kelleher, Managing Director of Centra, said that, in the context of Ireland’s fiercely competitive convenience sector, the shift towards more healthy options is “definitely not a fad”. He said Centra had cut shelf space normally designated for fizzy drinks in favour of water sales, and have also tweaked the recipes for its baked in-store bread to reflect changing customer tastes, which has boosted sales by 10%.Sales of salad boxes are up 80%, while the range of fruits and other healthier options have been extended under the Live Every Day scheme.

Meanwhile, sales of in-store hot coffee have risen to €5 million a year across its network since Centra introduced its Frank and Honest brand, which was developed in-house. The chain will also accelerate the rollout of its Frank and Honest brand. It is currently available in 260 out of 450 Centra stores. This number will increase to 330 by the end of March.centra