The site — in WC2 — is in the only postal area in the country where the Group’s food division is not yet operating. Due to open in February, the central London store, at 456–459 The Strand, is part of the Group’s plan to open more than 300 food outlets over the next three years.
The plans include a renewed focus on stores in city centre locations, including the capital, where The Co-operative brand is looking to increase its presence. To help achieve its target, the Group plans to double the size of its food acquisition team during 2011.
Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food became the UK’s fifth largest food retailer with nearly 3,000 stores nationwide.
Chief Executive Peter Marks said: “The Somerfield integration programme is due to be completed by the first quarter of next year, but we have no intention of resting on our laurels and the store on The Strand — just down the road from Buckingham Palace — will give us unique coverage across the UK.”
Meanwhile the strength of the Group’s family of businesses has been underlined in an annual survey of the most influential brands in Britain. The index of UK Business Thought Leaders, compiled by YouGov and Populus, puts the Co-operative Group eighth and the Co-operative Bank ninth.
The survey, which asked 1,000 key opinion formers to rank their top innovative and trusted companies, put Apple first and Google second, while retail giants Tesco and Marks & Spencer dropped out of the top ten.
Commented Mr Marks: “For the Group to have two in the top ten is a magnificent achievement. We are now ranked with some of the world’s top brands which just would not have happened a few years ago.”