Morrisons has kick-started its push into online retailing with the £70m purchase of baby product retailer Kiddicare.

The deal price represents almost double the £37.5m sales Kiddicare achieved last year and includes the rights to its highly regarded technology platform.

Founded in 1974, Kiddicare has grown by 75% in the past three years, primarily thanks to its online operations. Over 80% of the company’s sales are now through the online channel.

Kiddicare also owns a new state-of-the-art freehold distribution facility and operates the largest baby nursery equipment retail store in Europe. The Peterborough site comprises 160.000 sq ft of warehouse, retail and office space.

The company will continue to trade separately, led by current chiefs Elaine and Scott Weavers-Wright.

However, Morrisons revealed it intended to harness the platform and management to build its own online non-food business, with the first products to be launched next year. Last week it emerged that the supermarket was in talks with fashion guru George Davies about developing its own clothing range.

“This acquisition brings not only a respected, successful and fast-growing specialist retailer into the Morrisons group but also a robust, scalable and highly advanced technology platform, around which we can begin to build our e-commerce offer,” said Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips.

Competition for Kiddicare was reportedly fierce, with a number of private equity firms expressing their interest in a deal.

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