Morrisons marches south with major investment push

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Morrisons is set for a major push into the south of England as it looks to reduce its reliance on its traditional northern heartlands.

In its previous financial year, just 15% of the Bradford-based supermarket’s new space was in the south of the country. By 2013-14 this will have increased to 60%, the supermarket revealed this week.

The retailer announced last year that it was looking to add 2.5m sq ft of new floor space over three years but at the time did not give any details of where its new stores would be.

Speaking at Morrisons recently opened ‘Store of the Future’ in Tunbridge Wells, chief executive Dalton Philips said the next three years would see a step change in the retailer’s presence in the south.

There are currently 6.5 million households in the south that have more than a 15-minute drive time to a Morrisons store. The current push would reduce that figure by two million homes, he said.

The push will have a particular focus on London, where Morrisons commands just half its national market share of around 12%.

Morrisons currently has 30 stores within the M25 with 10 more under development. It plans to double that number within five years.

Philips was also positive about Morrisons’ plans to launch an online food offer. He said the team embedded in New York with online specialist FreshDirect “had returned with lots of ideas” and that he” felt encouraged”.

A further update is expected later this year but an online grocery offer could be launched at the end of next year, Philips said.

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