A third store format could be on the cards at the Co-operative Group, retail controller Malcolm Hepworth has revealed. Interviewed on stage at the Food and Drink Expo by The Grocer's Julian Hunt, Hepworth said the society's programme of revamping its stores was going exceptionally well and the group had managed to carry out around 240 refits last year. "We have committed more than £100m to the work and at any one time were refitting around 40 stores." Hepworth said the programme was on track and he hoped all the work would be completed before 2003. The refitted stores were all performing well, he said, and had experienced sales uplifts between 20% and 100%, with an average improvement of about 15%. He said this would be reflected in May when the society unveiled "impressive results". But he also revealed there were stores in the society's portfolio which fell into a grey area. "We have converted a large part of the estate into either our convenience Welcome or Market Town formats, with the balance of the estate being made up of grey stores," he explained. Hepworth said the society was looking at a number of possibilities for these stores: "Some of them are too large to trade as convenience stores and a decision has to be made whether to downsize them or perhaps come up with another general store format." He also added they were considering the possibility of adding a pharmacy element by bringing in new partners like sister society National Co-op Chemists to take space in the stores. {{NEWS }}