The Bradford-based grocer is proposing to redevelop its sites in Camden, north London, Canvey Island in Essex and Newquay in Cornwall, to create space for non-food retailers to open stores alongside its supermarkets.
In Canvey Island the retailer has applied for detailed planning consent for a 47,000 sq ft (4,365 sq m) terrace of non-food units alongside the Morrisons store, which itself has just been the subject of an extension. Subject to planning, the units will be available in summer 2009.
In Camden, the grocer plans the development of a single 16,500 sq ft (1,535 sq m) unit, while in Newquay consent has been obtained for a total of 20,000 sq ft (1,860 sq m), which will be developed as either one or two separate units.
The developments are part of an ongoing programme by Morrisons to realise the value of surplus land surrounding its stores by developing non-food retail space on it. Other planning applications are likely to follow as the retailer’s portfolio is scrutinised for further opportunities.
Russell Smith, partner at Morrisons’ adviser Rapleys, said the improvement in the grocer’s fortunes meant he was hopeful non-food retailers would be keen to take the space because of the increasing number of shoppers visiting its supermarkets.
“We believe the units will be in high demand from complementary retailers seeking to benefit from high footfall generated by Morrisons’ growing success as a food specialist,” said Smith.
Like the other big food retailers, Morrisons owns the bulk of its supermarket estate and views keeping control of it as vital to retaining operational execution.
However, grocers are keen to extract value from their portfolios, through development of space, like Morrisons, or by setting up joint ventures with property investors to sell off stakes in properties, which Tesco has done.