Morrisons is to tailor its ranges to the London market as it begins its assault on the capital and Southeast with its convenience arm.

The retailer opened its first Morrisons M Local store in Ealing, west London, this week as it looks to claw back market share from its rivals, after admitting its lack of exposure to the convenience market lost it shoppers over Christmas.  

Morrisons convenience managing director Gordon Mowat said the retailer will tailor ranges to local demographics in London stores, including large bags of rice and bottles of cooking oil for Asian communities.

Morrisons has stepped up the roll-out of the fascia. It acquired six former HMV stores this week following the purchase of 49 former Blockbusters and seven Jessops from administrators in the last month.

Mowat said: “I do not relish the fact that retailers are in administration, but the high street is changing and the stores have come up at an opportune time.”

Around half of the former Blockbuster stores are in London and the Southeast, and the grocer is on course to smash its original target of having a 70-store estate by the end of the year. It currently has 13 Morrisons M Local stores.

Mowat said the retailer will seek to differentiate itself from the competition with a stronger focus on fresh food, a wide-ranging food-to-go offer and “competitive” pricing.

Morrisons will face strong competition in the sector from established rivals Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local, as well as the symbol group retailers.