Costcutter is among several retail groups looking to take advantage of the faltering pub trade to seek new sites for expansion.

Executive chairman Colin Graves told C-Store the group recognised the potential of former pub sites and had made enquiries regarding numerous sites over the past two months. "It's still early days yet but we're looking at between 30 and 40 former pub sites around the UK," he said.

It is estimated that five pubs are closing every day in the UK, and as former pub sites are already licensed to serve food and alcohol, a change of use application is not required. This offers retailers the chance to set up a store, or to combine a store with a café or restaurant.

Tesco is also said to be capitalising on the decline in the pub trade and has is reported to have submitted 10 planning applications in the past three months for former pub sites.

Tony Evans, head of retail at property specialist Christie & Co, said: "We have always seen a healthy interest from retailers regarding pubs designated for alternative use, but the current increase in pub closures has led to further enquiries and opportunities across the country.

"The locations of these closed pubs make them perfect for convenience store operators, who will have a captive local customer base on their doorstep from day one.

"The ease in which change

of use can be gained without planning consent also increases the attractiveness of these

former pubs."