Morrisons is set to strengthen its position in the convenience sector with the purchase of 49 Blockbuster stores.
The supermarket is expected to use the 49 sites, purchased for an undisclosed fee, to boost its newly-renamed Morrisons M Local estate in London and the South East, areas where it is currently lagging behind its competitors, to help achieve its goal of opening 70 convenience stores by the end of 2013.
Morrisons recently acquired seven former Jessops sites when the photography retailer went into administration last month.
It also acquired a 100,000 sq ft multi-temperature distribution centre in Feltham, West London which will be the hub of the bespoke distribution network in the region and is set open at the end of this month.
The acquisitions mark an intent to grow its presence in an already packed convenience sector. It hopes to put fresh food at the centre of its convenience offer with all Morrisons M Locals carrying over 100 lines of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as space for fresh meat, fish and bakery.
“We are rolling out the Morrisons M local estate at pace this year, and these acquisitions give us a kick-start in securing a solid foothold in this key sector,” said Gordon Mowat, head of Morrisons Convenience. “The convenience market is growing, as more people shop locally and we want to be in a position to take advantage of this.”
Blockbuster entered administration in January with 332 stores earmarked for closure since then. Morrisons has made no commitment to employ any former Blockbuster staff but invited them to apply for positions at the new stores when they open.
Blockbuster’s administrators Deloitte said that the deal was “expected to be the first of a number of group and individual sales, as it worked through the inventory of Blockbuster stores”.