The Co-operative Group has completed its £1.57bn acquisition of Somerfield.

The deal propels The Co-op Group into the “premiership” of food retailers, with an 8% market share and 3,000 stores generating annual sales in excess of £7bn.

“This is great news for customers of both The Co-op Group and Somerfield,” said CEO Peter Marks.

“It is a transformational deal which cements our position as the UK’s number one community retailer and returns us to the premiership of food retailers. It is no longer the Big Four, it’s the Big Five.”

“Our first priority now is to start integrating the two businesses – something that will bring real scale benefits, enabling us to provide better value to our customers. There is a strong strategic fit between these businesses and we are looking forward to creating a single business combining the inherent strengths of both Somerfield and the Co-operative Group.”

The Co-op Group’s CEO of food retail Tim Hurrell will head the food business, Marks added, while Somerfield’s Bristol HQ will close in 18 months time.