A MIDLANDS-based electrical retailer has almost doubled its number of outlets following the multi-million pound buy-out of its rival.

Powerhouse Retail Ltd, which has six stores across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, including one on Worcester's Elgar Retail Park, has bought 98 ScottishPower stores for an undisclosed sum.

The deal means the independent retailer's turnover will increase from £191m to more than £400m and makes it the third largest electrical retailer in the country, after Comet and Dixons.

It also means a major refurbishment and re-branding programme, which will include the company's stores in Malvern, Bromsgrove, Evesham, Hereford and Leominster, as well as Worcester.

"We already have a major investment programme running throughout the company, plus we've just revealed our new corporate identity," said the company's communications manager, Emma Wyatt.

"A lot of store facias will change - including those in Worcestershire and Herefordshire - as part of the rolling refurbishment and re-branding programme."

Miss Wyatt said the expansion meant the 50 jobs across the six stores in the two counties were secured, and more would be created as the company's "rapid" growth continued.

"It's very possible more stores will be built in the area - we're growing very rapidly at the moment," she said.

"We're looking to bolster all the regions with as much investment as we can give."

She said the increased buying power of the group since it doubled its stores meant it was better able to compete with the "big two", Comet and Dixons.

"There's so much pressure on prices in the market, we needed better buying power in order to deliver the value demanded, although we tend to position ourselves more on service" she said, adding the "fierce" price war was making it very difficult for smaller independents.

Powerhouse Retail Ltd was formed eight years ago with the merger of the

retail operations of the old eastern, southern and Midlands electricity boards, which were "not in a particularly good position".

"We turned it around by managing costs very strictly before going onto the growth stage," said Miss Wyatt.

She said Powerhouse, which is owned by the board following a management buy-out five years ago, had been the largest independent electrical retailer for many years and the fact that an independent company was now third in the market was a major achievement.

The ScottishPower stores, which are mainly in Scotland and the north of the country, were put on the market after the company decided to focus on its core business as an energy supplier.