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Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK

Business: The Company File

5,000 new jobs at Somerfield

Somefield wants to be at the heart of the community

The supermarket group Somerfield is to create 5000 jobs, as part of its plan to rebrand the 900 Kwik Save stores it acquired earlier this year. The company will be investing £1bn in the next five years in the upgrade.

Somerfield said it saw itself as the leading neighbourhood supermarket chain "at the heart of community life." It will introduce more fresh food in its stores and begin home shopping and delivery services. The company operates a total of 1,400 stores.

[ image: Kwik Save will be rebranded]
Kwik Save will be rebranded
Somerfield announced an increase in underlying profits to £121m, although the one-off costs of the acquisition led to a loss after exceptional items of £11m. The group said it confident that synergy benefits of £50m from the acquisition would be delivered.

The group plans to close some of the smaller and less profitable stores as part of its consolidation plan. Already 46 Somerfield and 107 Kwik Save stores have been shut down, and another 120 more closures are in the pipeline.

Kwik Save's headquarters at Prestatyn will be closed by next April, with management concentrated at the group headquarters in Bristol.

But the group is actively seeking a partnership with another petrol retailer in order to expand the number of forecourt shops its operates. It already has a number of forecourt shops with Elf, the French petrol company.

Somerfield shares were up 11p in early trading as the City reacted favourably to the news.

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