Co-op plans store investment

Co-op plans store investment

The Co-operative Group, the UK's fifth-largest grocer, is launching a number of initiatives it believes will reverse its declining market share.

The retailer is planning to invest in its existing store base and in opening new stores.

It unveiled its "generation two" convenience store concept at a strategic update in London today (5 March).

The Co-op is trialling the initiative at 20 c-stores that have benefited from changes to the way the stores look and to product ranges. It is aiming to roll out these changes to one-third of its estate this year.

In addition, the firm plans to win over consumers by stepping up its investment in price. It is an area in which the group has under-invested, affecting its competitiveness. Details of how much the group would spend on cutting prices are yet to be confirmed. 

A spokesperson for The Co-op told just-food its efforts are more "evolutionary than revolutionary", building on initiatives already put in place - including the relaunch of its own label last year.

The company also plans leverage its position in the fast-growing convenience sector through opening new stores.

"We have an aspiration to significantly increase our convenience estate going forward," the spokesperson told just-food. "We are keen to accelerate further growth in an exciting market."

The CEO of the Co-op's food business, Steve Murrells, said the company would hope to operate around 4,000 convenience stores. The Co-op operates around 2,800 stores, 2,000 of which are convenience outlets. Murrells did not, however, provide a timetable for expansion.

The Co-op also hopes to expand its presence in Central London, where it is "under-represented" with 60-70 stores, the spokesperson said. "We do see the M25 corridor as an important development area."

While the group continues to explore the possibility of developing an online presence by developing services such as click and collect, the initiative is less of a priority than revamping store formats, the spokesperson said. "The main thrust will be around bricks and mortar but online and convenience are very complementary."