The Co-operative Group wants to “become a bigger convenience business than Tesco is today.”

The ambition was declared by head of retail Steve Murrells at the historic agm in Manchester last month. He told members that “while everyone else is rushing to the bottom,” The Co-op was “starting to rebuild and recover our food business” through its True North strategy.

The Co-op currently has 2,775 stores, according to the Grocery Retail Structure 2014. Tesco has 3,131. The Co-op plans to open 100 new c-stores this year. “If we continue to deliver better products, at fairer prices, in better shops, with our new customer focus programme, the early momentum we are starting to see will continue,” Murrells told the agm.

“Our improved food energy is being played out against the backdrop of the biggest reset that is going on in food history. In this year alone, we have seen more change than probably in the last 20 years. True North has meant that we are in the right place at the right time.”