A United Co-operatives store acquisitions website has had more than 25,000 hits since it went live in the New Year, the society claims.

United, which has embarked on a £70m expansion scheme, launched the site in a bid to find sites.

Through the website, the co-op promises a fee for the introduction of any site that leads to a successful deal.

The web page, www.unitedacquisitions.co.uk, has attracted visitors from the UK but also from mainland Europe and the US.

But the best business leads have come from the north east of England.

United Co-operatives general manager (property group) Derek Fogg said this week that he was pleased with the response to the website. "We intend to take a long-term view and use the site to communicate with developers and property professionals," he added.

United operates about 600 food stores in the north of England, north Midlands and north Wales. It hopes to open 50 new stores a year for the next three years.

Last month it revealed it was planning to merge with The Co-operative Group to create a single business with a turnover of £9.4bn. Its move to find property online follows in the footsteps of Lidl, Aldi and Farmfoods. All have sections of websites designed to appeal to site vendors.