Coles gained more ground on Woolworths in 2013

Coles gained more ground on Woolworths in 2013

Coles, Australia's second-largest grocer, plans to open 70 stores over the next three years.

A spokesperson for Coles told just-food the retailer is spending A$1.1bn (US$1bn) on the project. The new outlets will lead to 8,000 new store roles, he added.

At the end of 2013, Coles had a total of 762 supermarkets and 637 Coles Express outlets.

Two weeks ago, Coles booked a near-11% rise in half-year earnings after its underlying sales growth quickened in its second quarter.

Coles announced last month MD Ian McLeod would be moving to a position within parent company Wesfarmers, the Australian conglomerate, after six years in the role.

McLeod revitalised the business, with Coles gaining ground on larger rival Woolworths Ltd.

At the end of 2013, Coles' share of the Australian grocery sector stood at 33.5%, compared to Woolworths' 39%, according to local industry analysts Roy Market Research. The analysts said Coles had narrowed the gap to Woolworths and had seen its market share grow to its highest level since March 2008.

McLeod succeeded by Coles COO John Durkan. Both men will formally take their new roles in July.