The Co-op plans to open 100 new food stores in the coming year creating around 1,600 jobs.

The retailer will invest more than £160 million in the venture, as well as giving “major makeovers” to a further 150 outlets.

Up to 18 new stores will open in Scotland, 20 in London, 10 in Wales and others in English cities including York, Plymouth and Bristol.

The news follows the announcement of an agreement for the Co-op to become the exclusive wholesale supplier to the 2,200 Costcutter Group stores, and the deal to buy Nisa Retail, conditional on Competition and Markets Authority approval.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “Our food business is going from strength to strength in what is clearly a challenging retail market.

“We have the ambition for our stores to be at the heart of local life, bringing communities together and offering our members and customers great quality products when and where they need them.”

Stuart Hookins, Co-op’s director of portfolio and development, said: “The Co-op’s acquisitions and refit programme is a fundamental part of our food strategy.

“Moving forward with a clear purpose and momentum, our expansion plans for 2018 will mean the Co-op is on track to have opened at least 100 new stores in each of three consecutive years.

“With over one million new active members joining us in the last year, we are always looking for new locations to get closer to where our members and customers live and work and to meet their shopping needs conveniently.”