Co-op has confirmed plans to open 100 new food stores across the UK in 2018, creating an estimated 1,600 jobs. The community retailer will invest more than £160 million in new stores and major makeovers for a further 150 of its outlets. More than 20 new stores are set to open in London, and up to 18 stores are planned for Scotland including sites in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Forres (Highlands) and Kilmacolm (Renfewshire).
Rhayader (Powys) and Bryncoch (Neath) will be the first of 10 new stores set to open in Wales. Other new stores are planned up for Blackpool, Bristol, Chesterfield, Crewe, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth, Southampton and York among other towns and cities.
The news follows twin announcements last month as the Co-op confirmed it had reached an agreement to become exclusive wholesale supplier to the 2,200 stores across the Costcutter Supermarkets Group network from Spring 2018. While members of Nisa Retail also voted in favour of the Co-op’s offer to buy the delivered wholesale and convenience retail specialist, a move which is conditional on Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approval.
'The Co-op is positively responding to the changes occurring within this dynamic sector. Our food business is going from strength to strength in what is clearly a challenging retail market. We have the ambition for our stores to be at the heart of local life, bringing communities together and offering our Members and customers great quality products when and where they need them,' says Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food.
Stuart Hookins, Co-op’s director of portfolio and development, adds: 'The Co-op’s extensive acquisitions and refit programme is a fundamental part of our food strategy. Moving forward with a clear purpose and momentum, our expansion plans for 2018 will mean that the Co-op is on track to have opened at least 100 new stores in each of three consecutive years. With over one million new active Members joining us in the last year, we are always looking for new locations to get closer to where our Members and customers live and work and to meet their shopping needs conveniently. Our Members are now telling us where they would like to see a new Co-op store opening to serve their community through our suggest-a-site website.'
The new-look stores will see the Co-op – which this year won the title of Convenience Retailer of the Year in the Retail Industry Awards – focus on offering a wide range of fresh, healthy foods, meal ideas and essentials, alongside increased ranges of own-brand and locally-sourced produce.