Convenience retailer Centra has announced a €25m investment in an expansion programme, which will see 18 new Centra stores open this year, creating over 430 new jobs around the country.

The new expansion programme is in addition to the 11 new Centra stores opened in 2021 and the €17m used last year to revamp and refresh 64 existing stores.

Centra supports over 38,000 jobs and directly employs 11,716 people across the 483 stores operating in Ireland.

Centra today reported strong sales of €1.98 billion and annual growth of 2.5% for 2021.

The retailer said its "robust" performance was driven by growth in its convenience offering, including its award-winning own-brand ranges as well as its Frank and Honest coffee.

During Covid, Centra said its Moo'd Ice Cream recorded sales of €10m last year, up over 52% on 2020.

The "Inspired By Centra" range saw strong growth with a 40% increase in sales, while its "Freshly Prepared" range of meals also saw a 40% jump in sales.

An economic impact report by economist Jim Power reveals that the financial contribution of Centra stores is valued at an estimated €646.7m.

Direct employment by Centra creates about €38m in employment taxes and generates a total net wage of €160.4m, which is in turn injected into local economies.

Centra's Managing Director Ian Allen said the retailer's robust sales performance underscores its position as Ireland's leading convenience retailer.

"We have seen significant growth driven by increasing consumer demand for healthy and high-quality own-brand products at reasonable prices. We are continuously redefining convenience retail to ensure we satisfy the evolving needs of our shoppers by offering market-leading ranges," Mr Allen said.

"We are acutely aware of the rising cost of living challenges and we are working hard with our suppliers and retail partners to continue delivering the best value and quality to our customers," he added.