British retailer Co-op is set to launch its first franchise stores following the introduction of the company’s franchise recruitment programme.

The programme will see the retailer licence the Co-op brand to independent retailers and a significant number of stores are expected to open under the new model.

Co-op announced plans to open 100 new food stores and remodel 200 additional stores this year as part of its £200m investment programme.

The company will provide a full-service model to franchisees, including the support, tools and training required to accelerate their business with the company.

“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.”

Co-op new channels head Martin Rogers said: “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.

“We have been trialling our franchise model since last spring, with our fourth store opening this month, and we have seen a minimum 50% uplift on sales in these stores.

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

The company is currently in the process of recruiting independent retailers interested in becoming franchisees though a newly-launched website.

It is planning to offer a range of branded and own brand lines and full access to the Co-op’s membership scheme across its franchise stores.

Rogers added: “We’ve got a strong track-record in delivering quality products for our customers and we know that when we work together to achieve a common purpose, great things can happen. We’re a business that’s growing and innovating to give our customers more of what they need.”