[Coles exits inner-city Express sites]


Supermarket giant Coles is attempting to exit leases over four small Coles Express sites it operates in inner-Melbourne and faces uncertainty in central Sydney.The retailer is understood to be looking to reassign leases in Melbourne’s CBD, Richmond, Ripponlea and Windsor – with an independent operator the frontrunner to take them over.Coles’ no-fuel Express convenience store in Bridge Road, Richmond.The about face suggests Coles’ small store format is struggling and the group is re-engineering its strategy.At least one of the stores is understood to have been fitted out by the grocery giant but not yet commissioned.Coles has a larger small store footprint in central Melbourne than Sydney, where it operates a lone Express store at Wynyard.Its largest CBD store in Sydney, in the basement of 388 George Street, has closed while redevelopment of the building gets underway.The retreat from the Express format will also be a blow to Coles’ efforts to compete with rival Woolworths in the small store space.A boom in inner city apartment living has prompted a sharp uplift in convenience store offerings in central Melbourne and Sydney.Woolies has led the charge but other operators like Ezymart, 7Eleven and IGA are also jostling for space and foot traffic.Woolies operates at least six “Metro” style small format stores in Melbourne’s CBD and roughly five in Sydney’s and has been expanding the concept around the country. It has at least 45 Metro branded stores in Australia and considers the format a success.LoadingAgency CBRE is understood to be driving the leasing process for Coles but retail agent Zelman Ainsworth would not comment.The standalone wholly-owned Coles Express stores were an offshoot of Coles’ 685-strong nationwide Express offering which the supermarket giant operates in service stations around the country in partnership with Shell Australia.Woolies also recently got the jump on its arch rival in the larger format space after snapping up 10 former Caltex service station sites in Sydney and Melbourne which are expected to be transformed into 1500 square metre drive through supermarket offerings.Most Viewed in BusinessLoading


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