The Co-operative Food has outlined ambitious plans to double the number of its convenience stores in a bid to become the best player in the market.

Steve Murrells, chief executive Co-operative Retail, said the group was aiming to open approximately 150 new c-stores per year over the next five years. “We want a shop on every corner in every community in the country,” he announced at a briefing last week. “But we want to be judged on like for like sales growth rather than market share.” Its convenience stores experienced growth of just under 4% in the four weeks until the beginning of March.

He added that the Group would continue to downsize its supermarket estate, with plans to reduce its floorspace by 500,000sq ft this year. “We’re not big enough to compete with Tesco and Sainsbury’s, but we can lead the pack in convenience.”

Some 1,000 c-stores will be revamped this year, either through its ‘second generation’ roll out or store ‘evolution’. The new second generation stores are more mission-focused, based on food-for-now, food-for-tonight and food-for-later.  Basket spend and transactions at the second generation store in Shoreditch, east London, have risen by 7% since its revamp.

The Group also plans to increase its own brand range from 3,000 to 4,000 lines and will reduce its prices so that “shoppers notice the difference,” Murrells said. The price cut will be paid for by a multi-million pound efficiency drive.

He said online was secondary to convenience in the overall strategy. “We want to get bricks right first, then clicks.” At the moment 300 stores provide online delivery.

“In 2013 the Group had a heart attack. But we know the brand has great connections with people in this country. [The Co-operative] Food has continued to pick up after dark days of the reverend [Paul Flowers, former chairman. People want the Co-op to be successful again,” he added.