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Retail battle hots up with Co-op opening 30 stores in London

Laura Onita
The Co-op now has 330,000 members in the capital

The Co-op is betting big on London as almost a third of its new stores will open in the capital this year.

The chain, owned by its members, will spend £28 million on 30 food shops, including Cricklewood, Paddington and Walthamstow, as it pushes ahead with an aggressive expansion plan. Around 600 jobs will be up for grabs.

The company, which has turned itself around, was on the brink of collapse in 2014 after it plunged to a £2.5 billion loss. It was forced to offload some of its businesses, including pharmacies, to stay afloat.

The Co-op previously said it will open 100 stores this year after it opened another 100 last year and forked out £140 million for corner shops chain Nisa.

The expansion marks its intentions to focus on smaller convenience stores rather than big supermarkets as grocers, including Tesco, struggle with changing shopping habits and growing operating costs.

In January the Co-op slashed prices on some of its products by more than 40% to lure shoppers from rivals such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s after a £50 million investment.

The mutual said it made underlying pre-tax profits of £14 million in the six months to July 1, down 48% on the year before.

Peter Batt, Co-op's divisional managing director, said: "We look towards further expansion in 2019 and beyond."