Local shops driving Co-operative Food expansion

Co-operative Food will today take a further step towards its ambition of becoming the UK’s leading convenience retailer by opening its 150th new store since launching an expansion strategy.

The latest outlet in Edinburgh is the Co-ops 150th new store. Picture: Contributed
The latest outlet in Edinburgh is the Co-ops 150th new store. Picture: Contributed

The opening of the latest outlet, at the site of a former Peckham’s delicatessens on South Clerk Street in Edinburgh, came as the group announced plans to add up to 200 jobs north of the Border to boost staff numbers at peak shopping times.

Last year, Co-operative Food launched a plan to open hundreds of new small, high street and community stores and it is on course to meet its plan of having 3,000 outlets by 2017.

The Manchester-based retailer said the increase in staff numbers was in response to a trend of shoppers increasingly moving away from a big weekly shop to buying smaller amounts, locally, as and when they need it.

John McNeill, divisional managing director for Co-operative Food in Scotland, said: “The opening of our 150th new store in South Clerk Street shows that we are making significant strides towards our ambition of becoming the UK’s leading convenience retailer. The modern busy lifestyle is leading to more consumers adopting a grazing mentality which sees them shop in a little and often way each week.”

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He added: “These ‘grazers’ are leading a major shift in shopping habits which marks a return to the way people used to shop before the advent of larger supermarkets and we are meeting these shopping needs by opening more smaller stores and ensuring we have stores staffed at peak times.”

Last month, figures from market researcher Kantar Worldpanel showed that Co-operative Food’s sales returned to growth for the first time since July last year and the business retained its position as Britain’s fifth largest grocer.

The data showed that takings at the business increased by 1 per cent in the 12 weeks ending 19 July, giving it a 6.3 per cent share of the British grocery market.

The grocer’s focus on its convenience offer was also rewarded with an increase in shopper numbers, which have risen by 133,000.

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The Kantar research found that Tesco, which has around 3,500 UK stores, remained the grocer with the largest market share at 28.5 per cent, followed by Sainsbury’s at 16.5 per cent, Asda at 16.4 per cent and Morrisons at 10.9 per cent.

Co-operative Food’s nearest rivals were discount supermarket Aldi at 5.6 per cent, upmarket grocer Waitrose at 5 per cent and Lidl at 4 per cent.

Co-operative Food said that the development of the South Clerk Street building in Edinburgh’s Newington area had been “particularly” challenging as it is a property of historical and architectural significance. A listed staircase and other period features had to be retained as part of the work.