The Co-operative Group has announced plans to open 100 new food stores across the UK in 2018, provising an estimated 1,600 jobs.

The group will invest over £160m in new stores while a further 150 existing sites will receive major refits this year.

More than 20 new stores are expected to open in London, with up to 18 stores planned for Scotland. Ten new stores are set to open in Wales, while other stores will open in major cities such as Blackpool, Bristol, Manchester, Southampton and York.

Co-op Food chief executive Jo Whitfield said: “The Co-op is positively responding to the changes occurring within this dynamic sector. Our Food business is going from strength to strength in what is clearly a challenging retail market. We have the ambition for our stores to be at the heart of local life, bringing communities together and offering our Members and customers great quality products when and where they need them.”

Today’s announcement follows the Co-operative Group’s confirmation last month that it will enter an exclusive wholesale supply deal the Costcutter Supermarkets Group from spring 2018. 

Co-op’s director of portfolio and development Stuart Hookins said: “The Co-op’s extensive acquisitions and refit programme is a fundamental part of our food strategy. Moving forward with a clear purpose and momentum, our expansion plans for 2018 will mean that the Co-op is on track to have opened at least 100 new stores in each of three consecutive years.

“With over one million new active members joining us in the last year, we are always looking for new locations to get closer to where our Members and customers live and work and to meet their shopping needs conveniently. Our Members are now telling us where they would like to see a new Co-op store opening to serve their community through our suggest-a-site website.”

The new-look Co-op stores will focus on offering a wide range of fresh, healthy foods, meal ideas and essentials, alongside an increased own-brand and locally-sourced range.