Morrisons has inked a deal to open a 150,000 sq ft distribution centre in Bury to support the march of its M Local convenience format in its northern heartland.
Retail Week can reveal the grocer has partnered with logistics giant Wincanton to open the Lancashire centre later this year.
The site will have the potential to service more than 100 Morrisons M Local stores in the north of England. It will be leased for five years and will create 100 jobs.
It is the retailer’s second convenience distribution hub after it opened a 100,000 sq ft warehouse in Feltham, west London last year.
Its M Local convenience arm, headed by managing director Gordon Mowat, is seen as key for Morrisons to arrest its decline in like-for-likes sales and hit back at rivals including Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express.
Morrisons earlier this year moved to snap up 62 former Blockbuster, HMV and Jessops stores after their collapse into administration.
It has since vowed to increase its chain to over 100 Morrisons M local convenience stores open by the end of January 2014, creating 2,000 jobs with around half of these in the south of England.
Morrisons group logistics and supply chain director Neal Austin said: “This is a big year for M Local as we expand at pace. The convenience market is a fantastic opportunity for us and, as we expand our store offering, we’ve got to make sure we have the infrastructure to support it.
“We have spoken at length about the importance of us developing a presence in London and the South East, which will be our initial focus, but it’s crucial to us that we also bring our great M local offering to our customers up here in our heartland as well.”
Morrisons said its format dedicates more space to fresh food in comparison to its competitors, focusing on fruit and vegetables, bakery, meat and fish, and the Bury distribution centre will support this winning offer.
Sainsbury’s yesterday opened a new £30m depot in south London to support the grocer’s convenience expansion in the capital in parternships with Wincanton.