Wm Morrison wins OFT approval for deal to purchase 30 Co-operative stores

WM MORRISON yesterday got the green light from the Office of Fair Trading&nbsp; (OFT) for its acquisition of 30 stores from Co-operative Group.<br /><br />The shops being acquired will increase the size of the Morrison&rsquo;s estate by about 10 per cent. Morrison has had to wait for OFT approval since the deal was first announced to the market in December. <br /><br />Chief executive Marc Bolland has previously outlined the group&rsquo;s strategy to expand its store estate and increase its market share in the South of the country. Bolland said: &ldquo;We estimate there to be over 8m households in the UK which are not located within a 15 minute drive of a current Morrison&rsquo;s store. &rdquo;<br />The group has said that it wants to add 1m square feet by January 2010. <br /><br />This 30 store deal will exceed that target by 0.5m square feet, and the group is confident it will open a further 0.5m square feet of retail space in the year to January 2011.<br /><br />A spokesperson for the company yesterday said: &ldquo;The group has ambitious growth plans and this space&nbsp; expansion follows Morrison&rsquo;s aims of going from national to nationwide.&rdquo;