Morrisons snaps up Blockbuster sites

One of the food retailers seemingly untouched by the horsemeat scandal, Morrisons, has acquired 49 ex-Blockbuster stores from administrators for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase of the ex-video rental stores offers Morrisons easy access to town-centre locations, which is central to its M local convenience offering, which it hopes will be up and running by the end of the summer.

According to the retailer, its intention is to have at least 70 Morrisons M local stores open by the end of this year. To start, Morrisons will acquire space in London and the south east. The company has also acquired a 100,000sq ft multi-temperature distribution centre in West London.

Gordon Mowat, managing director of the new format, explained the M local estate was being rolled out at "pace" and the acquisition of the Blockbuster sites would provide a "kick start" in securing a solid foothold in the sector.

He added: "The convenience market is growing as more people shop locally and we want to be in a position to take advantage of this. Morrisons M locals offer a differentiated fresh shopping experience, with half the space dedicated to fresh food and scratch cooking – all at great prices."

Meat push

Morrisons has seen success amid some of its competitors in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Information released by the company showed fresh meat sales were up by more than 18% in a one-week period.

However, analysts at Shore Capital Clive Black and Darren Shirley said they believed most supermarkets "have probably seen stronger fresh versus processed meat sales" in recent weeks. They added: "We felt the fresh meat aisles in Tesco stores across Merseyside were much busier than normal at the weekend."


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