Co-op de­fies gloom with 100 shops in city cen­tres

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Front page - By Ash­ley Arm­strong

THE Co-op is plan­ning to buck the trend on the high street by open­ing 100 new city-cen­tre shops in 2019 as part of a £200m in­vest­ment to meet the shift from big out-of-town su­per­mar­kets.

The spend­ing will mean the chain will over­take the dis­coun­ters Aldi and Lidl as the fastest ex­pand­ing gro­cer.

As well as the new shops, which will be split be­tween Lon­don, the South­east, Wales and Scot­land, the Co-op is plan­ning to re­fur­bish 200 older stores. It said that the com­bined in­vest­ment could lead to around 1,500 jobs.

It will be the fourth con­sec­u­tive year the Co-op has opened 100 new shops as it fo­cuses on key city cen­tre lo­ca­tions, trans­port hubs, uni­ver­sity cam­puses and high rise res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments.

The Co-op has steered a turn­around from a cri­sis sparked by its bank five years ago. It has fo­cused on ex­ploit­ing the shift in habits away from large weekly shop­ping trips to smaller, more fre­quent shops at con­ve­nience stores.

A Co-op spokesman said: “Shifts in con­sumer shop­ping trends has seen ease, speed and con­ve­nience con­tin­u­ing to rise in im­por­tance for time­pressed shop­pers.”

Fig­ures from Bar­bour ABI ear­lier this year re­vealed that the Co-op had more plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions for new stores than Aldi and Lidl.

The strat­egy has been pay­ing off for the Co-op as prof­its nearly dou­bled in 2018 on the back of strong food sales and its £143m takeover of con­ve­nience chain Nisa. By the end of this year the busi­ness will sup­ply 850 of its own­branded prod­uct lines to Nisa part­ners.

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