Associated British Foods plans to target the Midlands to expand its Primark chain, the company has revealed.
A spokesman said ABF already intends to open two new stores by the end of this year at refitted former Littlewoods sites in Wolverhampton and Birmingham .
And finance director John Bason said the group would continue to look for acquisitions, particularly in central England, where it was under-represented.
ABF has a flagship Pri-mark store on Birmingham's New Street and there are also outlets in Burton, Hereford, Northampton and Telford.
It said 41 of the 120 Littlewoods stores it bought in July had been transferred to Primark management and would be opened progressively from late spring until early 2007.
Mr Bason said: "Our year-end is September, and probably ten will be open by then, and by far the majority will be open by Christmas. And this time next year, we'd hope most would be open."
Before being closed for refitting and rebranding, the Littlewoods stores exceeded expectations.
"The trading result will be somewhat ahead of our expectation at the time of acquisition," said ABF.
The company increased its estimate of the amount of new space Primark would gain in the deal, to 1.4 million sq ft from 1.2 million.
ABF is unloading the 79 remaining Littlewoods stores and 59 had already been sold, it said.
The group yesterday revealed half-year sales at Primark were expected to increase by six per cent despite a fire which destroyed its main UK warehouse.
The firm said stock levels had recovered well following the blaze in November and its expansion programme continued with seven new high street stores opened, compared with three that were closed during the first half of its financial year.
At the group's grocery business, Twinings, Ovaltine and Ryvita all achieved strong sales growth. It has made £1.5 billion worth of investments recently.
Elsewhere in the group, bakery operations have experienced difficulties with sales down in the UK business Allied Bakeries.
The firm said British Sugar continued to face difficult market conditions in the UK and Poland with fierce competition for deals and soaring costs.
Operating profits are expected to be down despite "excellent" campaigns in both countries.
Two of British Sugar's four factories are to be closed in Poland as part of a cost cutting drive.