Co-op Group speeds up new stores programme

With lockdown driving shoppers towards convenience stores the Group is looking to open more three stores a week until December

The Co-op Group has announced plans to open more than three food stores a week until December, accelerating its expansion into new communities.

The convenience retailer will launch over new and extended 65 stores, with more than 100 further outlets receiving major makeovers as part of a £130m investment programme creating up to 1,000 local jobs.

In addition to this 12 new Co-op franchise stores are set to launch this year, including at Oxford Brookes University and Stirling University. More university locations are planned for 2021.

This follows work in the first half of 2020 to expand the Group’s offer; 304 new stores joined Nisa with around 90% of all Nisa retailers now stocking Co-op own-brand products.

All of the Group’s new stores run on 100% renewable electricity, and its first new store to open post-lockdown saw Glastonbury Festival Founder, Michael Eavis take centre stage at the launch of a new store last month in Pilton, Somerset.

The Group says it is increasingly shifting its emphasis to “meet consumer demand for ease, choice and added services, delivering compelling convenience for communities”.

Its research shows that 70% of adults have relied on their local convenience store where they can shop quickly, easily and safely, with shoppers popping to their local store more than three times each week on average. The friendliest shoppers were shown to be from Newcastle, with almost two-thirds on first name terms with store workers.

David Roberts, managing director, Co-op Property, said: “Co-op works to operate at the heart of local life, making a difference in its communities. Multiple factors motivate consumers, with ease, choice and added services chief among them.

“We continually look for new locations, sites which are definitively convenient in their community – closer to our members and customers with proximity shopping a key consumer consideration. Co-operation is a fundamental part of our DNA, and through our partnership approach we are enriching our offer to make convenience truly compelling in our communities.”

James Lowman, CEO of the Association of Convenience Stores Chief Executive, said:Convenience stores have firmly established themselves as a place that local communities can rely on, not just for groceries but for a growing range of services that have kept the nation going during the last few months. This commitment to investing in stores in the coming months is testament to the importance of the convenience sector and the role that local shops play in people’s everyday lives.”