Waitrose has bought a package of stores from The Co-operative Group and will create 4,000 jobs this year.

The John Lewis Partnership-owned grocer has entered into a conditional agreement with The Co-operative Group to buy 13 stores, arising from its Somerfield acquisition. It will also open at least nine further shops this year.

The shops will add more than 200,000 sq ft of selling space to its portfolio, an increase of more than 5 per cent.

The 13 shops from the Co-op will give Waitrose a fifth shop in Wales and second stores in Tyne and Wear, Lincolnshire and Warwickshire. It will also increase its presence in the southwest of the UK with two new shops in Devon. Among the nine other shops it will open is its second convenience store in Bristol.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: “There is a real weight of evidence that businesses that continue to invest during tough economic times fare much better when the economy begins to recover. Our new shops will help ensure Waitrose is in the best shape possible coming out of the recession.”