Costcutter’s total store count fell by more than 12% during 2018, according to newly released annual results for the year.

As of 31 December 2018, there were 1,560 stores trading under a Costcutter fascia compared to 1,776 at the beginning of the year.

The symbol group’s turnover fell by nearly a quarter from £512m to £386m during the period.

However, the symbol group signed a supply deal with Co-op and Nisa in May of that year, and Costcutter said it turned a corner around a month later when its store count began to increase for the first time.

The symbol group’s owner, Bibby Line Group, explained: “The number of retailers had declined due to retailers leaving in the aftermath of Palmer & Harvey’s collapse, but there has been a net increase of stores since mid-2018.”

Operating losses for 2018 were lower than in 2017, at £9.27m compared to the £48.75m reported previously.

The release of these latest results for last year came as the group separately announced “high levels of interest” around the launch of its Co-op franchise scheme for operators looking to open or switch 10 stores or fewer to Co-op’s fascia.

“It’s clear this is an exciting and attractive proposition to existing retailers and new investors alike,” said Costcutter director of franchise Lucy Frost.