Musgrave’s convenience store chain Centra is to invest €23m in a new store expansion programme.

The investment will see it grow its nationwide presence with the opening of 18 new stores, creating more than 468 new jobs. The move would bring the total employment figure at Centra to more than 12,000.

With the removal of remaining Covid-19 restrictions, the return of employees to offices in urban locations last year boosted Centra sales to more than €1.98bn for the first time, a 17% increase on 2019. Lunchtime deli sales alone increased by almost 11% compared to 2021. Centra’s Frank and Honest coffee sales were up 7% while sales of baked goods increased by 8%.

As part of the expansion programme, Centra will also revamp and refresh 35 existing stores this year.

However, the company said they are seeing the impact of the cost-of-living crisis with consumers making a shift in the latter part of 2022 on dining in. Centra said it has seen an increase in demand for its freshly prepared range and sales increasing by more than 10% on its own-brand range.

Centra Managing Director Ian Allen said they have adapted to the schedules of time-poor shoppers saying today’s customers are shopping little and often.