Morrisons is to target well-heeled customers with its new convenience store format, with the first to open in the affluent Yorkshire town of Ilkley.
Morrisons is on course to open in the town, which boasts some of the most expensive houses in the north of England and direct commuter links to Leeds and Bradford, in July. The shop, which will be about 3,000 sq ft, will be converted from a property that is not currently in use as a food store. It will focus on fresh foods supplied by nearby larger stores, or direct from Morrisons’ manufacturing businesses.
In Ilkley the grocer will go up against Tesco and Marks & Spencer, in the town. Tesco caused uproar in the town last year after it won a controversial planning appeal for a new superstore, with residents group Ilkley Residents Against Tesco Encroachment vowing to continue campaigning.
The other two convenience store pilots will also be in upmarket towns in the north of England; one in Wilmslow in Cheshire and one in Merseyside, the location of which has not been disclosed.
Morrisons strategy director Gordon Mowat, who joined this year from McKinsey, will head the development of the format, reporting to finance director Richard Pennycook. He will be responsible for developing the strategy for roll out.
An implementation team has also been set up. Two of its rising stars, Miles Foster and Keith Wright, will oversee the management of and buying for the convenience stores respectively.
Chris Taylor, who was responsible for designing the convenience store formats, has been poached by Marks & Spencer to be part of its store operations team.
A spokesman said: “We believe fresh food at a convenience store level has not been served particularly well, and it’s an area that we can build strong market share. Our convenience programme is on course.”