The merger of AF Blakemore and Capper & Co has created some “fantastic opportunities” for the two company-owned store estates to improve and grow, according to Tates managing director Geoff Hallam.

Hallam told C-Store that staff at Blakemore’s Tates chain and Capper’s Waynes division were “getting to know each other” and building an understanding of potential synergies across the portfolio, which now numbers 331 stores, all trading under the Spar banner.

“Some of the things we are looking at are just little issues such as how we compare sales figures, but others are potentially really significant. For example, Waynes employs an energy manager whereas Tates doesn’t, and our combined electric bill is now £8m, so we’ve already got him looking at cost savings. Also, we’ve got a great acquisitions team at Tates and I’m sure we can help Waynes look at opportunities to expand further.”

The current sale of 39 stores from the Tates and Waynes portfolio across England and Wales is part of a planned disposal programme unrelated to the merger, Hallam said, adding that modernising the estate through the acquisition and development of new outlets was a key priority for the future.

“We’ve just opened some great new stores – they’re 3,000sq ft, brightly lit and with 20 parking spaces, and we’ll continue to grow where we can,” he added.