UK-based supermarket chain Asda has launched a programme to convert the 116 former Co-op stores and attached petrol station forecourts into its Asda Express brand stores.

The retailer is converting the first tranche, comprising 11 sites, into its convenience format, with plans to convert the remaining 105 sites by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

According to Asda, the converted Express sites will house up to 3,000 branded and own-label products, including essential items such as milk, bread and others.

In October last year, Asda acquired 132 Co-op sites in a deal valued at £438m ($535.74m).

The move is part of the retailer’s long-term strategy to enter the fast-growing convenience market as it aims to become one of the leading supermarkets in the UK.

Asda co-owner Mohsin Issa said: “The launch of our conversion programme is an incredibly exciting moment for our business and accelerates our presence in the fast-growing convenience market.

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“We look forward to bringing Asda’s great value in fuel and groceries to many more communities across the UK and to welcoming over 2,000 former Co-op colleagues to the Asda family in the coming months.” 

The retailer also operates three stand-alone Express stores in Sutton Coldfield, London (Tottenham Hale) and Calne.

In the coming months, Asda will also open new stores in Oxford Road, Manchester, and Romford Station, Havering.

Meanwhile, the supermarket chain is on track to complete the acquisition of the convenience business of EG Group in the UK.

In August this year, Asda launched a new food-to-go concept, Asda Food Hub, to drive more footfall across stores.