The Co-operative Group is overhauling its bakery department, as part of a new strategy to make its 3,000 shops "more exciting".

The group launched a "truly irresistible" premium brand this week, including speciality bakery products, benchmarked on quality against Marks & Spencer. Co-op category development manager, produce and bakery, Jill McCann told British Baker that while shoppers trusted the Co-op, they tended to only buy basics at its shops, not dinner party and indulgent foods.

New ranges started to roll out this week across a variety of categories, with bakery a priority area. Facings of standard plant bread have been reduced and new premium products brought in.

McCann said: "Plant bread is still very important to our business but the range has been trimmed. The new products include batch seeded, white and wholemeal loaves and rolls, supplied by British Bakeries, as well as topped Ciabatta and Cheese and Onion Focaccia, supplied by La Fornaia.

The Co-op has also reviewed its in-store bakery range and plans to relaunch that from April 28. And the retailer is experimenting with an in-store bakery own-brand at five trial sites in the south west and south east. It will measure the success of the own-brand at these sites across 2007, before rolling it out.