Morrisons has acquired 49 Blockbuster stores from the collapsed rental chain’s administrator Deloitte as it looks to ramp up its convenience presence.
The grocer has purchased the stores, which it hopes to have trading by the end of the summer, to convert to its newly renamed Morrisons M Local convenience fascia. The deal follows Morrisons’ acquisition of seven Jessops stores earlier this month.
Morrisons said the Blockbuster purchase gives it “quick access to a significant number of high street and neighbourhood locations across the country”, particularly in the Southeast.
The retailer has stated its intention to open at least 70 Morrisons M local stores by the end of 2013, starting with London and the Southeast, where it has acquired a 100,000 sq ft multi-temperature distribution centre in Feltham, West London. This will become the hub of a new distribution network in the region and is set to open later this month.
Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said the grocer lost out to rivals at Christmas due to a lack of exposure to the convenience market.
Morrisons convenience managing director Gordon Mowat said: “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. The convenience market is growing as more people shop locally and we want to be in a position to take advantage of this.”
Deloitte partner Lee Manning said: “This transaction represents a good deal for both the creditors of Blockbuster and Morrisons, and we are pleased that these stores have found an alternative user that can create new employment.
“This group of stores forms a proportion of the Blockbuster package announced for closure earlier this week and is expected to be the first of a number of group and individual store transactions to arise from the Blockbuster portfolio, given the significant levels of occupier interest for many of the assets.”
Blockbuster collapsed into administration last month after facing strong competition from online competitors as well as the economic downturn. Deloitte has shuttered 293 Blockbuster stores and 325 are still trading.