Co-op has announced plans to pilot seven new franchise convenience stores.
The retailer has signed an agreement with UK independent service station operator MRH.
The first of seven 1,000-1,500sq ft stores, which will stock Co-op products and branded goods, will open in May 2017 in Eastcote, North West London, with the pilot running throughout the year.
The partnership follows Co-op’s 25 store tie-up with McColl’s to provide own-brand products.
Karen Dickens, chief executive at MRH, said: “This pilot is an exciting development for MRH, and part of a wider move to increase the retail offering for customers at our sites.”
Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive at Co-op, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the Co-op to expand its presence further in the convenience sector, which is one of the fastest-growing areas in UK grocery.
“This will enable us to test the franchise model and potentially pave the way for further expansion to move the Co-op brand and our own-brand food into new communities.”
Sainsbury's has also announced plans to build a Sainsbury's local franchise system, aimed at working with independent retailers.