Retailer acquires Netto stores to launch new brand

The retail group owned by Yorkshireman Arthur Harris has bought 20 Netto supermarkets from rival Asda for the launch of its new discount brand.

The stores, across this region and the North West, will trade under the name UGO – pronounced You Go – which will offer a stronger and wider range of groceries and health and beauty products. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, is subject to regulatory approval. Scarborough-born Mr Harris becomes chief executive of the group and leaves his post as chairman. He said: "UGO will be a flexible, friendly and approachable company with old-fashioned ideas and ethics reconstructed where necessary to encompass a modern trading format.

"There is an opportunity in the mid-size discount supermarket sector to do something special and I think UGO, with its established store teams, is the brand that can do it."

The UGO stores, currently trading as Netto, stretch from Northumberland to Warwickshire, including sites in Bradford, Hull, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and across Lancashire.

Grantham-based Haldanes said it is also in "advanced discussions" to buy eight convenience stores and has already acquired a petrol forecourt and a convenience store with a post office. All of the convenience and forecourt stores will be branded Haldanes Xpress, meaning the Haldane Retail Group has three brands. Mr Harris said the name of the other Haldanes stores will be reviewed with at least one becoming UGO.

The board has also appointed Adam Hart as non-executive chairman and Kristoffer Getchell as IT director. Graeme Hay, previously the chief executive, left in April.

Mr Harris said: "I am pleased to have been able to secure the services of both Adam and Kris. With Richard Collins as chief operating officer, Chris Laud as group finance director, Stuart Eaton as property director and Steve Back as non-executive director, I am working with the most experienced team I could have."

Haldanes said the Office of Fair Trading has cleared the Netto deal subject to a final public consultation, which expires on February 2. The family-run group has no borrowings, it added.