Co-op Group to pilot franchise deal with new convenience stores at MRH service stations

The Group says it is testing the franchise model as a way to expand its brand into new communities

The Co-op Group has partnered with independent service station operator MRH for a pilot scheme to open seven new franchise convenience stores.

The first store under the new franchise agreement opened last month in Eastcote, North West London. The 1,000-1,500 sq ft shop stocks Co-op products and branded goods, offering customers a range of fresh, healthy foods and groceries.

Karen Dickens, chief executive of MRH, said: “This pilot is an exciting development for MRH, and part of a wider move to increase the retail offering for customers at our sites. We look forward to working with the Co-op team as we pilot this model with them, and explore further ways we can ensure our customers time and again choose to visit MRH for their petrol and convenience needs.”

Related: McColl’s runs trial of Co-op Group own-brand products

Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive at the Group, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for the Co-op to expand its presence further in the convenience sector, which is one of the fastest-growing areas in UK grocery.

“This will enable us to test the franchise model and potentially pave the way for further expansion to move the Co-op brand and our own-brand food into new communities.”

She added: “The trials with MRH and McColl’s demonstrate our commitment to bring award winning Co-op products to more customers and members around the country.”

The opening of the store could also benefit community groups. Under the Co-op’s new membership offer, customers get a 5% reward when purchasing own-brand products, with a further 1% going to local causes.

Martin Rogers, the Group’s head of franchise operations, said: “The whole team is excited to be involved in the launch of this brand new petrol station store. Customers have got a great reason to call in and see what is on offer. We’re looking forward to serving the community in Eastcote.

“Our ambition is to establish the Co-op store as a local hub, a real asset for the community. The store is also giving back to local good causes through our membership scheme. Co-op members make a difference locally every time they shop.

“Simply swiping their membership card when they buy own-branded products and services will raise much needed funding for organisations who contribute to improving local life.”

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