Britain's Co-op to create 1,000 jobs in stores expansion

FILE PHOTO: Branding is seen outside a Co-op supermarket in London, Britain, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Co-operative Group 42TE.L said on Friday it would open over 65 new and extended stores this year, creating up to 1,000 jobs, as it seeks to capitalise on the popularity of local convenience shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

The owner of the country’s sixth-largest supermarket chain said the new stores were part of a 135 million pound ($178 million) investment programme.

It said up to 12 more Co-op franchise stores would also open this year.

Britons’ grocery shopping habits have shifted during the pandemic toward more online shopping and more frequent trips to smaller convenience stores. The latter is the mainstay of the Co-op’s business.

While the crisis has hit the UK labour market badly, the supermarket industry has been a rare bright spot.

Last month, market leader Tesco TSCO.L said it would create 16,000 permanent roles to meet the surge in demand for home deliveries.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Stephen Addison