Morrisons has become the first retailer to take on stores from The Co-operative Group following its purchase of Somerfield.

Morrisons has snapped up 38 stores for £223m, it revealed this week, as it announced an 8.1% rise in like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to 2 November.

Chief executive Marc Bolland put the strong sales down to the extra 700,000 new customers a week as a result of its improved fresh offer and store improvements.

The conditional agreement to acquire more than 500,000 sq ft of retail space from Co-op is in addition to the one million sq ft new space target outlined in Morrisons' Optimisation Plan.

The new units, around the size of Morrisons smaller stores, have a "nice geographic spread". "It's an excellent time for us," said Bolland. "It's not often that a group of stores is for sale."