Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society, which has 40 convenience stores, has acquired two new outlets which will open by Christmas, chief executive Barry Wood has confirmed.

Wood declined to reveal the locations but said that the openings would bring the total this year to four, including a former My Local outlet, in London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and a former Nisa in Wood Lane, Dagenham.

He spoke to C-Store after announcing a like-for-like sales decline of 0.3% in the food business in the 28 weeks to August 13, despite volume growth of 2.03% in core categories. The food business (including fuel) reported a year-on-year increase in trading profit of £63,129. Group turnover increased marginally from £39.27m to £39.38m and surplus before distribution climbed from £620,000 to £645,000.

The Essex co-op said food deflation had continued to prevail but considerable progress had been made in enhancing the food estate. The interim report announced the imminent closure of the Exchange Way, Chelmsford, convenience store because of continued losses. Wood told C-Store it would close on November 4.

The mutual is undergoing a four-year refit programme which began in the summer of 2014. About a quarter have been refitted to date. Danbury and Melbourne are due for refurbishment in the latter part of this year.

Wood said this year had been particularly active in terms of store acquisitions after buying nothing in the past two years. “We aim to buy one store a year,” he added.