The Co-op is set to open 100 new food stores in 2018 through a £160 million investment.
The member-owned supermarket chain will also give “major makeovers” to a further 150 outlets as it looks to fight off strong competition from the German discounters.
More than 20 of the new stores will be opened in London; up to 18 will be in Scotland; Wales will get 10; and others will be opened in Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol among other cities.
The investment can be viewed as a bid to wrest back market share from the discounters, with Aldi leapfrogging Co-op in 2017 to become the UK’s sixth largest supermarket.
The investment also follows the recent announcements that Co-op will become the Costcutter Group’s exclusive wholesale supplier as of spring 2018, and acquire grocery store chain Nisa, subject to Competition and Markets Authority approval.
Prior to the investment, the Co-op had been closing stores, rather than opening them. The business sold 300 shops to convenience retailer McColl’s in 2016, and has focused on its own smaller convenience outlets rather than bigger stores.
Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “The Co-op is positively responding to the changes occurring within this dynamic sector. Our Food business is going from strength to strength in what is clearly a challenging retail market.
“We have the ambition for our stores to be at the heart of local life, bringing communities together and offering our Members and customers great quality products when and where they need them.”
The retailer’s director of portfolio and development, Stuart Hookins, added: “The Co-op’s extensive acquisitions and refit programme is a fundamental part of our food strategy.
“Moving forward with a clear purpose and momentum, our expansion plans for 2018 will mean that the Co-op is on track to have opened at least 100 new stores in each of three consecutive years.”