The Co-op is stepping up its drive to streamline its store estate after the grocer earmarked hundreds of shops it plans to offload.

The mutual has identified 300 of its larger non-convenience stores that it wants to sell and has hired investment bank Rothschild to contact prospective buyers, according to reports.

Executives are exploring a sale of the stores, which would appeal to smaller food retailers or discount chains including Poundland or B&M, but there is no certainty that they will be sold, according to Sky News.

As previously reported, the Co-op was already seeking to sell 100 underperforming stores that were acquired when the group purchased Somerfield almost a decade ago.

The grocer is undergoing a turnaround under group boss Richard Pennycook and food boss Steve Murrells.

The Co-op’s food business posted a 1.6% growth in like-for-like sales when the group unveiled full-year results last week.

The Co-op is increasingly focusing on its core convenience stores, which delivered a 3.8% uplift in like-for-likes during the 52 weeks to January 2. The retailer still plans to open 100 new stores and refit 150 others this year.

A spokesman for the Co-op declined to comment.