Belfast Telegraph

Morrisons out to expand baby product brand

By Graeme Evans

Lloyds Banking Group boss Antonio Horta-Osorio will return to work today after extreme fatigue forced him to take a two-month leave of absence.

SUPERMARKET group Morrisons is reported to be sizing up several Best Buy megastores in a bid to grow its Kiddicare brand.

The Bradford-based grocer is understood to be in advanced talks with Carphone Warehouse about the 11 'big box' sites, which are in the process of closing after a failed joint venture with American electricals giant Best Buy.

The move has the potential to shake up the UK baby products market at a time when Mothercare is struggling to reverse falling sales.

When Morrisons bought Kiddicare for £70m last year it was thought that the supermarket chain was interested in the Peterborough-based firm's slick internet operation and distribution system.

But following a successful trial where Kiddicare internet kiosks were placed in Morrisons stores, allowing supermarket shoppers to order baby equipment, Morrisons wants to expand the brand.

The Sunday Telegraph said most of the venture's products are priced at a considerable discount to high street retailers.

The large out-of-town stores currently operated by Best Buy would also enable Morrisons to stock some of its non-food products as it starts to compete in this area with the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.

It is not thought that a deal will be signed in time to accompany Monday's Christmas trading update by Morrisons.

The supermarket is expected to report underlying sales growth of around 1%, compared with an expected decline at rival Tesco.

Kiddicare, which was founded in 1974 by Neville and Marilyn Wright, generated turnover of £37.5m in 2010 after growth of 75% in the past three years.