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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    Somerfield Plc sees sales drop as it focuses on convenience operations.

    BRISTOL, U.K. -- Somerfield Plc, Britain's fifth-largest supermarket chain, said sales dropped at stores open at least a year in its fiscal second half, reported Bloomberg.com.

    Same-store sales fell 1.5 percent in the 25 weeks through April 30, compared with the first half's 0.6 percent gain, spokeswoman Nadja Vetter said.

    The grocer has been trying to add more customers by focusing on convenience stores and expanding its more profitable smaller outlets. The company purchased 114 Safeway convenience stores last year, adding 1.2 million square feet of selling space. The strategy has produced less than expected, however, as rival Tesco Plc has increased its number of Tesco Express convenience stores to more than 1,000.

    The grocer is in talks with suitors on a possible bid after rejecting a 1.03 billion-pound ($1.96 billion) proposal from Baugur Group HF, Iceland's largest retailer, in March. Talks of a possible takeover are increasing since Baugur joined forces with millionaire investor Robert Tchenguiz, Apax Partners Worldwide LLP and Barclays Capital.


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