The Co-operative Group’s new food CEO Steve Murrells is preparing to launch a five-year strategy for the society’s food business as he bids to turn around falling sales.

Speaking to The Grocer in his first interview since taking on the role in July last year, Murrells said the five-year Future Food Strategy would be revealed in the next couple of months and would focus on “getting back to basics”.

“The work will be completed very shortly and I am confident it will bring a new dynamic of leadership and excitement into the programme,” he said.

“The shopping experience is going to get a lot better and we’re going to look at what to do with this brand and how to get it back into growth.”

The society has been trialling new store formats and ranges for the past few months. Murrells said he was “very pleased” with the progress so far, especially on fresh, where like-for-like sales were in double-digits over Christmas.

This week, The Co-op Group reported a 0.3% increase in like-for-like food sales for the last 13 weeks of 2012 and a 2.2% increase for the three weeks to 5 January.