Morrisons buys 49 Blockbuster stores

British supermarket Morrisons has bought 49 shops from failed DVD and games rental chain Blockbuster in Britain as it steps up plans to expand its convenience business.

The deal will not prevent any of the job cuts already announced by Blockbuster administrators Deloitte, but Morrisons said it hopes to create around 1,000 jobs as it reopens the shops as convenience stores.

Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer also announced the re-branding of its M Local convenience business to Morrisons M local.

Yesterday’s announcement — for an undisclosed sum — follows the recent acquisition of seven stores from collapsed camera retailer Jessops as Morrisons takes advantage of quick access to high street locations to build up its convenience chain.

It is accelerating expansion plans after struggling to compete because of its small number of convenience stores, as well as the lack of a grocery delivery service.

Morrisons, which has 12 M Local stores, reported a 2.5% decline in like-for-like sales for the six weeks to Dec 30, which followed a 2.1% decline in the previous quarter.

The Bradford-based business is leading a fight-back under recently appointed chief executive Dalton Philips, launching an advertising campaign fronted by TV presenters Ant and Dec earlier this year, and sponsoring hit shows Britain’s Got Talent and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Morrisons hopes to have at least 70 convenience stores by the end of 2013, while it is expected to announce the latest move towards a full-scale online food delivery service alongside its annual results on Mar 14.

Gordon Mowat, managing director of Morrisons Convenience, said: “We are rolling out the Morrisons M local estate at pace this year and these acquisitions give us a kick-start in securing a solid foothold in this key sector.”

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