The growing number of pubs for sale are proving increasingly attractive options for c-store retailers looking to find prime locations and expand their estates.

According to property specialists Christie & Co, the six months to the end of September saw a 189% increase in the number of distressed asset pub sales compared with the same period the previous year.

Christie & Co head of bank support and business recovery Steve Rodell said he expected the rate of pub closures to continue, but that the properties provided a significant opportunity for experienced local operators to expand.

Spar retailer Jeremy Van Laun recently bought a former pub site in Gosport, Hampshire, and converted it into a 1,500sq ft convenience store. He has been delighted by its success, with customers responding enthusiastically to the change.

"One or two have said they used to stand here and have a pint, but now they're buying groceries instead," said his mother Lesley, who also works in the business.

Londis York retailers Aasif Rabbani and David Hook also opened in a former pub last year.