Amazon has poached Central England Co-operative trading executive Matt Birch as it builds its UK property expertise.

Birch, who joined the online retailer in May, has specialised in grocery property throughout his career, having spent nearly a decade at Sainsbury’s prior to joining the Central England Co-operative in 2017, culminating as the big-four grocer’s director of commercial operations.

He also previously acted as property director for German coffee retail chain Tchibo.

Birch is understood to be among the Amazon executives who have been meeting to identify sites for physical stores, The Times reported.

Property sources said the online retailer is exploring how to expand its current grocery offering, which is fulfilled by its Prime Pantry and Amazon Fresh delivery services.

The etailer is also yet to launch its check-out free store format in the UK. Amazon currently has 17 Go store’s in the US as well as 18 book shops.