Morrisons plans to open a second distribution site to serve its growing network of convenience stores.

The UK retailer said it had taken a lease on a site in Bury in Lancashire. Wincantons will run the facility on behalf of Morrisons, which opened a distribution centre in west London for its M Local c-stores in March.

Neal Austin, logistics and supply chain director at Morrisons, said: "This is a big year for M Local as we expand at pace. The convenience market is a fantastic opportunity for us and, as we expand our store offering, we've got to make sure we have the infrastructure to support it. We have spoken at length about the importance of us developing a presence in London and the south east, which will be our initial focus, but it's crucial to us that we also bring our great M local offering to our customers up here in our heartland as well."

The UK's fourth-largest grocer is aiming to have over 100 Morrisons M Local convenience stores open by the end of January.

Morrisons is playing catch up in the UK's growing convenience channel to supermakret rivals like Tesco and Sainsbury's. It only opened its first c-store in 2011 but has been busy expanding its estate. At the turn of the year, it snapped up stores from UK retailers HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops after they went into administration.

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Morrisons will open a new distribution centre in Bury, Lancashire, later this year to deliver to its fast-expanding convenience store network.

The lease of the site, which has the potential to service over 100 Morrisons M local stores in the north of England, is another significant step in ensuring the retailer has the capacity to deliver on its stated plans for growth in the convenience sector.

It is the retailer’s second convenience distribution hub, following on from the opening of its site in Feltham, West London, in March, and will support the opening of the 62 sites acquired from Blockbuster, HMV and Jessops earlier this year.

Feltham will provide a bespoke distribution centre to service Morrisons M locals in the south east of England and Bury will fulfil the same role in the north. Morrisons is aiming to have over 100 Morrisons M local convenience stores open by the end of January 2014, creating 2,000 jobs with around half of these in the south of England.

The 150,000 sq.ft site will be leased for five years and run by supply chain specialists Wincanton on behalf of Morrisons. A total of 100 new jobs will be created in the area once the site is fully operational.

Neal Austin, Morrisons Group Logistics and Supply Chain Director, said: “This is a big year for M local as we expand at pace. The convenience market is a fantastic opportunity for us and, as we expand our store offering, we’ve got to make sure we have the infrastructure to support it. “We have spoken at length about the importance of us developing a presence in London and the south east, which will be our initial focus, but it’s crucial to us that we also bring our great M local offering to our customers up here in our heartland as well.”

Eric Born, Chief Executive of Wincanton, said: “We are delighted to be expanding our partnership with Morrisons with the announcement of this five year contract. “Over the last 18 months, we have seen our market share grow as we broaden our service offering in the UK retail sector, and today’s announcement confirms the enormous potential that exists for Wincanton.”

Morrisons M locals dedicate more space to fresh food in comparison to its competitors, focusing on fruit and vegetables, bakery, meat and fish, and the Bury distribution centre will support this winning offer

Original source: Morrisons