Morrisons joins the big boys in mini store wars

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The Independent Online

Morrisons has revealed a roll-out of its M Local smaller stores to take the fight to Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's, as it posted record annual profits.

The UK's fourth-biggest grocer also revealed it will launch a non-food offer online in its fourth quarter, but will hold fire on selling food on the internet until late 2013 at the earliest.

Morrisons has just three M Local convenience stores, sized up to 3,000 square feet, but it wants to add about 20 this year and 50 in 2013-14. Its chief executive, Dalton Philips, said: "This is a real statement of intent that we are taking this channel very seriously." But Morrisons is playing catch-up in the market for smaller shops.

Tesco has nearly 2,000 convenience stores, including its One Stop format, Sainsbury's operates 435 and Waitrose has 29.

Morrisons delivered underlying pre-tax profits up by 8 per cent to £935m for the year to 29 January. It grew its total sales by 7 per cent to £17.7bn.