The first Co-op franchise store on a university campus is set to open in Leeds in February, as the group looks to actively recruit independent Nisa and Costcutter stores as franchisees.

Under the terms of the new partnership, the store will still be managed and run by Leeds University Union staff and its members, and will relaunch following a major investment on 20 February.

There are currently three Co-op Group franchised stores under Costcutter Supermarkets Group (CSG) ownership, in Guiseley, Whitkirk and Barrow-upon-Humber, all of which opened in 2018.

The Co-op Group is holding a number of franchise roadshows for Nisa retailers in February. CSG has exclusivity for recruiting any independent retailer (except Nisa) who wishes to operate up to 10 franchise Co-op stores.

The new Leeds uni store – currently known as Essentials - will offer Co-op’s full range of fresh, healthy foods, extended vegan and free-from products, Fairtrade produce, food-to-go, in-store bakery and essentials.

Martin Rogers, Co-op’s head of new channels, said: “This is an important development for the Co-op, franchises provide an exciting opportunity to grow our brand and generate mutual value with selected partners.”

Independent Co-op societies have separate programmes. The Southern Co-op currently has an estate of around 25 franchised stores.