Sainsbury’s is to accelerate its convenience store expansion in London and the Southeast as competition in the area hots up.

Sainsbury’s plans to open 50 convenience shops in the area by early 2014, creating over 1,000 jobs. It currently has 150 convenience stores in London and the Southeast.

The grocer’s convenience business is growing 18% year on year, with over five million customers a week.

London and the Southeast is a competitive area for convenience retailing with Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons all vying with Sainsbury’s for stores.

Sainsbury’s convenience director Simon Twigger said: “Sainsbury’s has an unrivalled history in London and the Southeast with our first store opening in Drury Lane in 1869 and these new stores carry on this tradition.”

The new stores will be supported by its new distribution centre at Thameside.

Sainsbury’s plans to open between one and two convenience stores a week in the current financial year. It has so far opened 87 in the year and now has 523 convenience stores nationwide.