Co-op is accelerating its store opening programme during the second half of this year.
The convenience retailer is planning to open at least three new extended stores a week between now and the end of December. It will also conduct major refurbishments at a further 100 stores as part of a £130m store investment programme.
Co-op said the investment would create more than 1,000 new permanent roles. It said this was in addition to a similar number of permanent jobs created out of the 5,000 temporary workers it took on at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.
The retailer said it was also on track to open 12 new franchise stores this year, marking a significant growth on the six franchise stores that were open at the end of 2019. The latest franchise stores in the pipeline are at Oxford Brookes and Stirling universities.
“Co-op works to operate at the heart of local life, making a difference in its communities,” said Co-op property MD David Roberts. “Multiple factors motivate consumers, with ease, choice and added services chief among them. We continually look for new locations which are definitively convenient – closer to our members and customers with proximity shopping a key consumer consideration.
“Through our partnership approach we are enriching our offer to make convenience truly compelling in our communities.”
The Co-op has enjoyed rapid sales growth since the Covid-19 crisis hit the UK in March. According to the most recent grocery market share data from Kantar, Co-op sales jumped 22.4% for the 12 weeks to 9 August. This was the second-fastest growth by any of the leading bricks-and-mortar grocers, behind Iceland, which grew by 29.2%.