Morrisons is set for a major push into the south as it looks to address concerns that it remains too reliant on its northern heartland.
In its last financial year, just 15% of the Bradford-based supermarket’s new space was in the south. By 2013/14 this will have increased to 60%, revealed CEO Dalton Philips this week at the retailer’s new ‘Store of the Future” in Tunbridge Wells.
The retailer announced last year that it was looking to add 2.5 million sq ft of new floorspace over three years, but at the time did not give any details of where its new stores would be.
Philips confirmed that there would be a step change in its presence in the south over the next three years. There were currently 6.5 million households in the south that had more than a 15-minute drive to their nearest Morrisons store. The push would reduce this by two million.
Morrisons would focus particularly on London, where it currently only commanded around a 6% market share, half of its national share, he added. It currently had 30 stores within the M25, with 10 more under development. It planned to double this number within five years.
If it could replicate its overall market share in the capital it would be worth an extra £1bn of sales, said Philips.
He was also positive about Morrisons’ plans to launch an online food offer. He said the team it had 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. If the new site gets the green light, it will be launched at the end of next year, said Philips.