The Co-operative Group is on course to open over 80 new food stores before the end of the year.

As part of a £260m investment plan to expand and develop its food store estate, the group has already launched 49 stores this year and plans to open two more every week before the end of 2012. It is particularly focusing on high street and community locations.

Stuart Hookins, head of portfolio strategy, said: “It has been another very busy year for us and our continued activity in the market place highlights our ambitions to expand our food store estate.

“We are focused on the convenience sector and are on target to launch 83 food stores this year, following the massive capital investment of more than £260 million. With even more acquisitions in the pipeline we are in a very strong position, putting us at the forefront of the convenience market.”

Last November, the Co-operative pledged to “go back on the acquisition trail with a vengeance” and set a target of opening 300 stores within three years.

In January, the group bought 28 David Sands Ltd stores in Scotland for an undisclosed sum. It has already rebranded stores in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Markinch, with the remaining 25 to follow in due course.