Irish retailing combine Musgrave Group has sold off its Budgens stores in the UK.

The Cork-based retail giant, which bought the Budgens chain of supermarkets for EUR550m (US$794m) in 2000, has been offloading outlets to independent retailers since 2004.

On Friday (18 January), Musgrave said it had sold some 125 outlets to a number of independent UK retailers. Some 25 stores were sold as property deals, while the rest were sold to retailers.

Jonathan James, who bought the first Budgens store in Soham in 2004, has bought one store, while ex-Tesco retailer Kevin Whalley and Guy Warner, who owns four stores, also bought outlets.

A spokesperson for Musgrave said: "The crucial element of the programme was always to ensure that the right retailer was paired with the right store. By selling Budgens stores to independent retailers, Musgrave aimed to partner with local entrepreneurial food retailers to meet the unique demands of the communities they serve with an increased emphasis on local sourcing."

The Budgens network now consists of 177 stores throughout Britain, 52 of which joined in the past year.