Morrisons has bought wholesale flower business Flower World as a further step in its vertical integration strategy.

Flower World, set up in 1987, imports and distributes flowers to retailers within the UK. In the year to August 2010, it generated sales of £33.7m.

The grocer said the acquisition will enable it to improve the quality of its flowers. Morrisons already had a relationship with Flower World, as it supplies a third of its current products. It also supplies retailers including BP and Nisa.

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said: “Morrisons wants to be known as the supermarket that excels at retailing flowers. We believe that we can do this by owning our own flower business.”

Supermarkets have generally not had a great reputation for fresh flowers, and the acquisition will give Morrisons expertise in the area. The grocer wants to develop the business at its stores and garden centres, and is also considering getting into areas such as weddings and funerals.