The Co-operative Food is set to convert 54 pub sites into convenience stores from the Marston’s pub portfolio, after signing a deal with NewRiver Retail.

The agreement to lease the pub sites forms part of the group’s objective to open more than 100 new c-stores this year as it embarks on a major expansion plan.

The majority of the properties are based in central, Eastern and Northern England. Some of the pubs will be either converted to c-stores or redeveloped as standalone stores, while some will be significantly expanded in size.

However, most of the stores will be new-build projects to be constructed on surplus land adjacent to the existing pubs, The Co-op said. This will mean a number of the pubs will continue to operate in their original format under lease to NewRiver Retail.

Store sizes will range from 3,000sq ft to 4,500sq ft, with the first expected to be opened in early 2015.

Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-op’s retail division, said: “The Co-operative Group has a clear vision to establish itself as the best local food retailer in the UK and over the coming years our focus will be to develop and grow our existing convenience estate of over 2,000 stores.

“Our focus is on convenience stores and a move away from larger stores, as we look to highlight our strengths and consolidate our position as number one in the competitive convenience market. To do this we are investing in our stores to ensure that the product offering, the service and the prices appeal to shoppers.”