Co-op supermarket plans green expansion of its UK stores this year

  • The Co-op is opening, or extending, 65 stores in the UK as part of its move to focus on local convenience retail.
  • The new stores will run on 100% renewable electricity.
  • Though it’s expanding its physical stores, in August the Co-op became the most widely available supermarket on Deliveroo in the UK.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Britain’s sixth-largest grocer will create 1,000 new jobs with a plan to open, or extend 65 stores by the end of the year that will all run on 100% renewable electricity. 

As well as extending some existing branches, the Co-op said it will also overhaul more than 100 of its 2,600 stores as part of a £130 million ($172.8 million) investment plan.

Up to 12 new Co-op franchise stores will also launch by the end of 2020 with many on university campuses. This is part of the chain’s move to focus on local convenience retail – which includes its own-brand products now being stocked at around 90% of all Nisa stores after it acquired the grocery wholesaler in May 2018.

As well as making plans to expand its physical stores, the Co-op rapidly increased its delivery services during the pandemic. In August it became the most widely available supermarket on food delivery app Deliveroo. After partnering with the platform in 2019, the Co-op now operates deliveries from over 400 stores and covers 128 UK cities.

Many UK grocers began changing the way they served customers during the lockdown that kept millions of people at home. Some began working with Deliveroo, including Morrisons and German-owned Aldi. Others, such as Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, began ramping up its online offerings by recruiting 10,000 new staff to assemble customer orders and 3,000 new delivery drivers.

“Convenience stores have firmly established themselves as a place that local communities can rely on, not just for groceries but for a growing range of services that have kept the nation going during the last few months,” James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said.

The pandemic has caused a long-term shift in people’s spending habits, with around 17.2 million British consumers – or one in four Brits – planning on making permanent changes to how they shop, according to a report by Alvarez & Marsal and Retail Economics.

The Co-op’s sales increased by 13.9% in July to give it a 5.2% share of the grocery market. In June the grocer reported that at certain points in time, demand for face masks outsold essentials such as milk, bread, and eggs. However, the Co-op wasn’t the only UK supermarket chain to flourish during the pandemic.

Tesco reported its online sales doubling in the three months to May to 1.3 million orders per week compared to the same period the year before.

While many UK supermarkets hired temporary staff to meet demand during the pandemic, some have since announced job cuts. Marks and Spencer, which sells food alongside clothing and homeware products, said last month that it would cut 7,000 jobs by Christmas after the pandemic caused a sales slump. This is around 10% of its UK workforce.

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