The Co-op plans to open 100 new stores across the UK in 2017 involving a cost of £70m ($86.03m) and help create 1,500 jobs.

The consumer co-operative said most of the new stores will be opened across London and the south-east. Five stores in London will be opened before the end of March.

The expansion will not be limited to these two regions. Other areas where Co-op would open new stores include Swansea, Kings Bromley in Staffordshire, Beverley in Yorkshire and Sheffield.

The Manchester-headquartered company said the expansion is not new as it had opened 100 new stores in 2016 as well. Of all the new food outlets opened by big firms in the UK this year, Co-op's new stores accounted for close to 50%. This, however, did not include discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, which unlike the Big Four UK supermarkets have been on an expansion mode as well.

Stuart Hookins, property portfolio and development director at the Co-op, was cited by The Times as saying: "Whilst other retailers are scaling back their expansion plans, the Co-op continues to open new convenience stores and we plan to open hundreds more new stores over the next few years."

While discount retailers and Co-op thrived, sales at Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons continued to decline, according to the Kantar Worldpanel report. The report also said Co-op's sales had grown 2% in the 12 weeks to 4 December.

The company attributed a part of the recent success to the launch of new programmes such as its 5&1 scheme. One of the biggest features of this was that its members would receive a 5% reward if they bought Co-op-branded products and services. The scheme, which was launched in September, already has more than half a million members giving a boost to footfall at its stores.