Irish convenience store chain Spar is to create 1,000 jobs as part of a €200m (US$235m) expansion that will see 100 new stores opened by the end of 2005.

BWG, which holds Ireland’s Spar franchise, said the expansion would increase sales by 48% to €1bn within three years. BWG currently operates around 400 Spar outlets in Ireland and employs 7,500 people.

At a press conference to publicise the expansion plans, Leo Crawford, chief executive of BWG, took the opportunity to voice his opinion on reports that the government is considering lifting the ban on selling groceries below wholesale prices and building large out-of-town hypermarkets, reported the Irish Times.

Crawford said that ending such bans would hurt domestic retailers. Only larger retailers stood to gain from such a decision, while the position of independents and suppliers would be weakened, Crawford said.