The Co-op Group has announced it now has the capability to deliver franchising “at scale”, while launching a new website and setting out criteria for potential franchisees.

It aims to create a “significant number” of new Co-op-branded franchise stores to add to the recently-announced plan to build 100 new stores in 2019. It is the first time the group has licenced its brand to independent retailers.

To meet the criteria to operate franchise stores, independent retailers need to operate a store turning over £20,000 per week within a sales area of over 2,000sq ft, and a back of house (warehouse) of over 800sq ft.

Retailers also need to share the Co-op’s “values and principles”.

Co-op head of new channels, Martin Rogers, said: “This is a significant milestone in our franchise ambition and we’re looking for the right retailers in the right locations to share in our success and help widen the reach of Co-op products.

“We have been trialling our franchise model since last spring, with our fourth store opening this month, and we have seen a minimum 50% uplift on sales in these stores. We now have the capability to deliver franchising at scale, offering our award-winning food, in new places to attract new customers and members.”

The Co-op franchise stores will offer a wide range of branded and own brand lines. In addition, franchised outlets will provide shoppers with the same access to the Co-op’s membership scheme.

The first Co-op franchise store on a university campus is set to open in Leeds on 20 February.

The Co-op franchise recruitment platform launched at regional roadshows for Nisa retailers this week. Full details can be found here