Waitrose is to buy 13 stores from the Co-operative Group and plans to open nine more stores in 2009, in a move that will create 4,000 new jobs.

The John Lewis Partnership-owned grocer said the conditional agreement to buy the Co-op stores, made possible by the latter's acquisition of Somerfield, cleared by competition authorities yesterday will deliver 1,500 jobs. It then plans to open nine stores organically in 2009 will create another 2,500.

More than 1,000 Somerfield employees will join the partnership. The addition of 22 stores will take Waitrose's total of stores to 220. Following one of its biggest acquisitions, Mark Price, the managing director of Waitrose, said it is now in the biggest growth period in its history.

The Independent