Morrisons opens 'local' store

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The Independent Online

Supermarket chain Morrisons has opened its first ever convenience store as it looks to tap into the growing demand for local shopping.

Morrisons, which has 455 supermarkets in the UK, has opened its first trial M-local store in Ilkley, Yorkshire, and plans to open two more this year.

Rival supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury's have been rapidly growing the number of convenience outlets in recent years as the rising cost of petrol means consumers are topping up locally more often instead of driving to out of town supermarkets.

Of the 'big four' supermarket chains, only Asda now does not have convenience stores, although it has started to open smaller supermarkets in recent months after it bought discount chain Netto.

Morrisons said its convenience stores will have more than 100 lines of fresh produce including strong fish, meat and bread offers and a salad bar.

The company said its convenience stores will sell fresh food at the same price as its supermarkets, making them between 4% and 11% cheaper than other convenience stores.

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said: "Convenience is one of the fastest growing sectors of the market and developing our offer in this channel is a key part of our growth strategy."

Mr Philips took over at the Bradford-based chain last year, replacing Marc Bolland when he became chief executive at Marks & Spencer.

He has outlined plans to move Morrisons into new markets and has already paid £70 million for online baby products business Kiddicare as part of plans to launch online.

More recently, it has been linked with a possible £1.5 billion offer for frozen food chain Iceland which would more than double its store numbers.