The Co-operative Group is ramping up the pace of new store openings.

It said 35 new stores were set to open between 21 November and 12 December, and that a total of 100 new stores would have opened in the year to March 2015. On top of that, 337 stores would have been refitted to the society’s ‘generation two’ format by the end of December.

More than 120 new stores per year would be opened in subsequent years through The Co-op buying new space and acquiring trading ­businesses, added director of estates services David Roberts.

“We are aware of the best sites and we want to get there as quickly as we can - before others do. We want a store in every postcode, especially within the M25,” he said.

This week, The Co-op acquired five Budgens and two Londis stores in and around the Milton Keynes area.

“Our focus is on ­convenience stores as we look to highlight our strengths and ­consolidate our position as number one in the competitive convenience market,” said Co-op director of portfolio and development Stuart Hookins.