The Co-op has confirmed plans to open 100 new food stores across the UK in 2018, creating an estimated 1,600 jobs.
It comes as part of the £160m investment programme for the community retailer that includes new stores and major refurbishment for a further 150 outlets.
More than 20 new stores are set to open in London, and up to 18 stores are planned for Scotland including stores in Glasgow; Edinburgh, Forres and Kilmacolm.
Rhayader and Bryncoch will be the first of 10 new stores which are set to open in Wales. While other new stores are lined up for Blackpool, Bristol, Chesterfield, Crewe, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth, Southampton and York among other towns and cities.
The news follows the twin announcements last month, firstly that the group has reached an agreement to become exclusive wholesale supplier to the 2,200 stores across the Costcutter Supermarkets Group network from spring 2018, and second that members of Nisa Retail also voted in favour of the Co-op’s acquisition offer. The move is conditional on Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approval.
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.”
Stuart Hookins, Co-op’s director of portfolio and development, said: “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.
“With over one million new active members joining us in the last year, we are always looking for new locations to get closer to where our members and customers live and work and to meet their shopping needs conveniently.”