In a strategy announcement last week, chief executive Dalton Philips said there were "attractive opportunities for future growth" outside its larger stores, and that it would begin a trial of a convenience format with three stores to be opened next year. He also revealed that Morrisons would investigate opportunities in internet shopping.
Tesco is well established in the convenience sector with about 1,700 stores, while Sainsbury's has 350. Both have said they intend to accelerate the rate of new openings this year. Asda recently revealed its plans for a smaller format with the purchase of 193 former Netto outlets, and in June Waitrose opened the first of what it says will be a 300-strong chain of 3,000sq ft stores.
Grocery market analyst IGD said earlier this year that it expects the c-store sector to grow faster than the wider grocery market, reaching £41.3bn in 2015 from £30bn in 2010.
Although it is the last major multiple to embrace convenience, Philips said Morrisons would bring its own style to the format. "Morrisons' past success has been built on being different in the offer we bring to customers, and this will continue in any new areas for business development."