Morrisons buys Blockbuster stores
Supermarket Morrisons has bought 49 stores from failed DVD and games rental chain Blockbuster as it steps up plans to expand its convenience business.
The UK's fourth-biggest grocer also announced the rebranding of its M Local convenience business to Morrisons M local.
The announcement - for an undisclosed sum - follows the recent acquisition of seven stores from collapsed camera retailer Jessops as Morrisons takes advantage of quick access to high street locations to build up its convenience chain.
It is accelerating expansion plans after struggling to compete because of its small number of convenience stores, as well as a lack of grocery delivery service.
Morrisons, which currently has 12 M Local stores, reported a disappointing 2.5% decline in like-for-like sales for the six weeks to December 30, which followed a 2.1% decline in the previous quarter.
The Bradford-based business is leading a fightback under recently appointed chief executive Dalton Philips, launching an advertising campaign fronted by TV presenters Ant and Dec earlier this year and sponsoring hit shows Britain's Got Talent and Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.
Morrisons hopes to have at least 70 convenience stores by the end of 2013, while it is expected to announce the latest move towards a full-scale online food delivery service alongside its annual results on March 14.
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 kickstart 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."