Australian supermarket operator Woolworths reports that the stores it acquired from rival group Franklins are trading some 8% ahead of expectation.

CEO Roger Corbett also said overall group sales in the first eight weeks of the 2001-2002 financial year are on track with forecasts and sales from continuing business are up 10%, reports Dow Jones.

Woolworths took over 51 of the 67 stores Franklins put on the market, and has reopened 38 of them under the Woolworths fascia. Store refurbishment costs were trimmed to A$111m (US$55m) from a forecast A$126m. The stores are expected to boost 2001-2002 sales by A$1bn and by A$1.5bn the following year.

Corbett added that Woolworths plans to add 15-25 new supermarkets each year “for the foreseeable future”.