Southern Co-op has announced eight new franchise stores for 2019, taking its expanding Welcome franchise estate to 33 sites.

Kent-based forecourt retailer George Hammond plc is switching six of its stores from Spar to Welcome Co-op franchises.

Another Welcome franchise store has opened in Southwater Service Station, in West Sussex, with a further planned for.Swiss Cottage, in London.

George Hammond retail director John Ryeland said the move would enable the group to focus on range, ethical values and reasonable prices.

“Over the last decade, we have seen many changes in the petrol retailing business with most of our sites being redeveloped into larger convenience store formats,” he said

“Transferring to the Welcome franchise gives us support from the Southern Co-op team and access to all products and promotions available in mainstream Co-op stores.

“The shift in UK consumer habits from the weekly big shop to more regular small top up convenience store visits has been recognised by all the major hypermarkets. This move will allow us to sit more comfortably in this sector with focus on range, ethical values and all at a reasonable price.”

George Hammond’s six sites moving to the Welcome brand are Dover South Services, which has already opened, Three Elm Service Station, Queenborough Service Station, Thanet Way Services, Deal Service Station and Priory Service Station. 

Currently a total of 17 Welcome franchisees operate a combined 33 sites.