co-op fascia

The Co-operative Group has finalised a deal to open 63 new Co-op stores on former or existing Marston’s pub sites.

The deal - for stores on sites of between 3,000 sq ft and 4,200 sq ft - gives The Co-op 215,000 sq ft of new retail space.

The majority of the c-stores will be built on surplus land and car parks, but some will involve conversions and new builds on the sites of existing pubs. Most of the sites will also have dedicated or shared parking for 10 to 25 cars.

The deal is part of the society’s plans to grow to 3,500 c-stores. It will open 100 new c-stores this year and 150 each year from 2015 onwards.

CEO Richard Pennycook told The Grocer its expansion drive was progressing well. “The biggest opportunity for us is c-stores and local neighbourhood stores,” he said. “We are pretty good at getting these. Others are behind on their plans in this area. They are finding it’s not so easy: opening large numbers of these stores is a very specific skill set and we’re doing that rather well.”

The Co-op has been strengthening its property team to focus on its expansion and announced earlier this month it had hired Tesco’s property director for China, Robert Bignold. Bignold has taken on a new role as head of acquisitions and new store development at the group.

The deal for the Marston’s sites was first announced in April, when The Co-op struck an agreement with NewRiver Retail, which had acquired 202 Marston’s pubs for £90m. The Co-op will pay £3.8m and £15 to £17.50 per sq ft in rent on 15-year leases.

NewRiver will submit planning applications for most of the sites within the next two months and plans to begin building in the first quarter of 2015. It expects to start delivering the new stores to The Co-op in the summer of 2015.