AF Blakemore is on the verge of taking over fellow Spar wholesaler Capper & Co, Convenience Store understands.

Capper released a statement last week saying it had been "talking to another company for some time about a possible merger of their businesses", suggesting that discussions had reached an advanced stage.

If concluded, the merger would create a group with a turnover of about £1bn, split roughly 70/30 in Blakemore's favour. As Capper covers South Wales, the M4 corridor and South East England, with Blakemore's servicing North Wales and the Midlands, the merger would also create a large but geographically manageable catchment area covering all of Wales, Central and Southern England, with the exception of the South-west tip.

Capper services about 400 independently owned Spar stores and owns more than 100 under the Waynes Foods division. Blakemore's supplies about 700 outlets and operates 200 Spar shops under its Tates banner. Capper has two distribution centres, one in South Wales and the other in Sussex.

In the company statement, Capper managing director Robert Upton commented: "The main benefits of such a merger would be the strengthening of the Spar brand in the UK and the creation of a more powerful enterprise."

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