Morrisons will pilot a further 10 convenience stores at petrol station locations after unveiling a partnership with forecourt operator Rontec.
The supermarket chain will open four Morrisons Daily stores before Christmas and a further six in January as it continues to dip its toe back into the lucrative convenience market.
As part of boss David Potts’ strategy to give Morrisons a “capital light” route back into the convenience sector, which it exited in September last year, the grocer is also reviving the Safeway brand.
The retailer is developing a range of hundreds of convenience products, branded Safeway, which will be sold to independent retailers in the UK from early next year.
Morrisons said the range will allow it to “leverage its sourcing and unique food maker skills” to sell goods to smaller businesses. Around three-quarters of the convenience market is currently held by independent retailers.
Morrisons, which sold its M Local business to Greybull-backed Mike Greene just over a year ago, has already opened a clutch of c-stores through a partnership with another petrol forecourt operator, Motor Fuel Group (MFG).
The retailer said its latest convenience stores will be up to 3,000 sq ft in size and will sell a combination of own-brand and private label products.
The shops will be supplied by Morrisons via delivered wholesaler specialist, Palmer & Harvey.
Morrisons boss Potts said: “These are two capital light ways of growing in the convenience food market. By working with well-established partners and reviving the Safeway brand, we are making our products more accessible to more customers.”
Rontec chairman and chief executive Gerald Ronson added: “We are constantly looking for ways in which we can improve the service and product range we offer to our customers and are pleased to be working together with Morrisons on this pilot.”
Morrisons revealed in October last year that it was piloting five c-stores across the UK in a tie-up with MFG, enabling the grocer to supply branded and own-brand goods.
The move came just three months after it sold the M Local chain to Greene, who rebranded it My Local. The chain later fell into administration.
Morrisons initially entered the convenience sector four years ago, but it employed what analysts described as a “scattergun” approach to opening stores, acquiring parcels of shops from HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster after the three retailers went bust in a bid to catch up with rivals Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Potts sold the stores as part of his turnaround plan, which initially focused on Morrisons’ core supermarket business, but he is now stepping up attempts to revive the grocer’s convenience footprint.
If the trials with MFG and Rontec are successful, Morrisons could potentially roll out dozens of c-stores across their estates.