Morrisons has outlined its ambition to become a “true multi-format player” through the aggressive expansion of its convenience estate.
In a speech by chief executive Dalton Philips, plans for a full-on assault on the convenience channel were detailed, including the promise of opening an average of two new M Local stores every week over the next 12 months and a target of 100 sites trading by the end of 2013.
“We didn’t have any convenience stores when I arrived, and to be honest, not even a plan for them,” he said. “In a retail business, you need to be where the growth is. And it was clear we were not.”
It plans to have 24 M Local stores trading by the end of July, with new stores set to open in Wokingham, Kensington, Westminster, Windsor, Kilmarnock, Derby and Blackburn.
The supermarket chain is also building a new depot in Bury to cope with the proposed expansion of its convenience arm in the North, while southern M Local stores are being supplied by its recently-opened depot in Feltham.
Philips added that the plans were helped by high street chain closures at the beginning of the year and that Morrisons was in a better position to capitalise on the changing shopping environment.
“The purchase of the most attractive Blockbuster, HMV and Jessops sites was a vital step towards this ambition,” he added. “Hypermarkets, as I’ve said before, are going to be a blip in retail history and we are not saddled with a large network of them – white elephants which are expensive to run and don’t meet the needs of today’s customers.”