SUPERMARKET giant Morrisons is purchasing 49 Blockbuster stores from the company’s administrators as it steps up expansion of its Morrisons M local convenience outlets.

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The deal follows Morrisons’ acquisition of seven Jessops stores earlier in the year.

The supermarket chain, which has bought the stores to give it quick access to high street sites across the country, particularly in South East England, said it would not yet disclose where the stores are located. However, it hopes to have them trading by the end of the summer.

The retailer has stated its intention to open at least 70 Morrisons M local stores by the end of 2013, starting with London and the South East.

Blockbuster administrators Deloitte described it as “a good deal” for both the creditors of Blockbuster and for Morrisons.

“We are pleased that these stores have found an alternative user that can create new employment,” said Deloitte partner Lee Manning.

Gordon Mowat, Managing Director of Morrisons Convenience said: “We are rolling out the Morrisons M local estate at pace this year and these acquisitions give us a kick start in securing a solid foothold in this key sector. The convenience market is growing as more people shop locally and we want to be in a position to take advantage of this.

“Morrisons M locals offer a differentiated fresh shopping experience with half the space dedicated to fresh food and scratch cooking all at great prices.”

Mr Manning added: “This group of stores forms a proportion of the Blockbuster package announced for closure earlier this week and is expected to be the first of a number of group and individual store transactions to arise from the Blockbuster portfolio given the significant levels of occupier interest for many of the assets”.

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