The Co-op has unveiled its plans to develop franchise stores, which will be the first time the 175-year-old supermarket has licenced its brand to independent retailers.

This expansion programme aims to create a significant number of new Co-op branded stores under its franchise offering, on top of its recent announcement to build around 100 new owned and operated stores in 2019.

“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,” said Martin Rogers, Head of New Channels at the Co-op.

After the acquisition of the symbol group Nisa last year, the new programme will offer another unique proposition for independent retailers to become part of the Co-op community. Franchisees will access a full service model, receiving support, tools and training to enable them to grow their business with Co-op.

The retailer revealed that it has been trialling the franchise model since last spring and opened the fourth store this month. The trial has seen a minimum 50 percent uplift on sales in these stores, it added.

“We now have the capability to deliver franchising at scale, offering our award-winning food, in new places to attract new customers and members,” Rogers said.

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 which gives a 5 percent reward back on Co-op own-brand purchases and a further 1 percent is donated to local community causes.

The Co-op has launched its franchise recruitment platform at regional roadshows this week. More details can be found here.