Northern Ireland’s Henderson Group has announced plans to invest £18m in its company-owned estate in 2006 – including significant investment in its forecourt businesses.

Among the sites being developed this year is the first of the 12 Shell company-owned forecourts, which were acquired in 2003. The new Spar Shell Gransha Road service station in Bangor will re-open in early March following a knock-down and re-build eight month redevelopment programme, with further ‘Shell filling station projects’ said to be in the pipeline.

A spokesperson for Henderson’s said that eight forecourts in total would be knocked down and rebuilt or undergo major redevelopment in 2006.

The company – which owns the Spar, Vivo and Eurospar franchises across Northern Ireland – will be spending almost three times as much as last year on its company-owned estate in 2006.

It also plans to invest £3m directly with its retail partners to help develop their independent businesses and £6.4m on marketing its brands.

Henderson’s recruited 27 new stores under its Spar, Eurospar and Vivo formats last year, while 63 were updated and redeveloped.

Paddy Doody, sales and marketing director, commented: “Last year showed a solid growth in the business despite tough market conditions. Our significant investment into both our company-owned estate and our retail partners’ businesses in 2006 demonstrates our commitment to growth.”