Budget retail chain 99p Stores plans to open at least two new outlets in Birmingham during the next 20 months as part of a major UK expansion which will create up to 800 jobs.

The London-based firm, which already has shops in Coventry and Walsall, is to open a total of 45 more to double its network.

It is being backed to the tune of #8 million by Barclays Ventures and Lloyds TSB.

Barclays Ventures initially invested #3 million into the firm in June 2004, as part of a #5 million package.

Since then,the business has opened a further 26 stores and turnover has doubled.

It now has annual sales in excess of #100 million and employs some 950 people. Employee numbers are expected to rise to 1,750 by December 2007 under the expansion programme.

The company was set up in 2001 by chief executive Nadir Lalani who yesterday said: "I am delighted with the growth we have achieved in the last 18 months. We have ambitious growth plans, which we can now pursue from a much stronger financial base."

Khilan Dodhia, a director at Barclays Ventures, added: "The business has a fantastic market position and goes from strength to strength.