McColl’s Retail Group will continue on the expansion trail even after the current integration of 298 stores acquired from the Co-op Group is completed, according to chief executive Jonathan Miller.

Speaking at an investor event in the City of London, Miller said that group is still aiming to acquire a further 40-50 stores a year, with goodwill acquisitions from existing independent retailers expected to account for most, if not all, of these.

McColl’s reached its original target of 1,000 convenience stores in November last year, and since then it has acquired a further 298 sites which are being transferred over from the Co-op Group in tranches. Nearly 200 of these stores are now trading as McColl’s, with the integration expected to complete by August 2017. At that point, the store chain will be 80% convenience, with 1,304 c-stores and 349 CTNs.

The group is currently trialling Co-op own brand products in 25 stores, while a further two outlets are testing a new look and feel with mission-based shop layouts. The intention is to have 20 more stores in the new format by the end of the year with a wider roll-out in 2018.

Further plans include a relaunch of the Plus loyalty card, plus a more visible and consistent community presence under the McColl’s brand, including the development of social media activity.

Research carried out by IGD on behalf of McColl’s shows that the convenience sector is delivering value to consumers by saving them time.

With people spending an average of 16.7 hours grocery shopping per month, 9.8 hours of which are travelling time, local stores with a credible food offer are in a strong position to provide benefits for modern shoppers, argued Miller. About 90% of McColl’s stores are in neighbourhood locations, with 53% of customers living within 400m of its shops.