Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket chain, is ramping up its convenience business and is looking at HMV stores and other central locations to target consumers buying their daily essentials.
Bradford-based Morrisons confirmed yesterday it had bought 49 stores from failed DVD and games rental chain Blockbuster, creating 1,000 jobs. Half of those outlets are situated in the south east, where Morrisons currently lacks a significant presence.
The move followed the recent acquisition of 7 stores from the collapsed camera retailer Jessops. Will HMV stores, another recent casualty on the high street, be next in line?
‘We certainly wouldn’t rule it out,’ a Morrisons spokeperson told MT. ‘We’re looking into it. We have a lot of other sites we’re looking at across the UK. We’re easily going to hit our target of opening 70 local stores by the end of the year.’
Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket chain, has lagged behind rivals Tescos and Sainsbury’s by lacking a significant convenience business and online presence.
Morrisons currently has 12 M Local stores, and the Jessops and Blockbuster acquisitions will bring the total number to 68. That compares to Sainsbury’s 500-strong convenience chain and Tesco’s 1,500 Express business.
The retailer’s limited number of smaller shops is one of the reasons why sales slipped over Christmas. Morrisons reported a disappointing 2.5% decline in like-for-like sales for the six weeks to December 30, which followed a 2.1% decline in the previous quarter.
It’s expected that Morrisons will now exceed its target of 70 convenience store openings this year. ‘Customers say that [rival] convenience stores don’t give them great fresh products, don’t give them great prices, and they also complain about the service,’ Gordon Mowat, MD of Morrisons Convenience, said in an interview with the BBC this morning.
Morrisons will update shareholders on its launch of an online food delivery service when it announces its annual results in March.