The £32m “strategic investment” in FreshDirect gives the British supermarket an online presence in both food and non-food and follows the announcement earlier this month that it has bought online baby wear retailer Kiddicare.com.
Morrisons will use what it learns from working with FreshDirect to inform the launch of its online food business in the UK.
FreshDirect is a profitable online grocer serving 600,000 customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and shares Morrisons’ focus on fresh foods.
Its online operation allows customers to buy fresh products from deli, butchery, fish and bakery counters as well as freshly prepared meals and side dishes.
Morrisons CEO Dalton Phillips will join the board of FreshDirect and the supermarket will appoint a team to work at FreshDirect’s New York headquarters.
Philips says: “What we learn from FreshDirect will be invaluable as we plan our own profitable e-commerce business for the UK.”
Morrisons is the only major UK supermarket that does not currently operate an online grocery service.
The news comes as Morrisons reports that total sales for the year ended 30 January increased 7% to £16.5bn. Like for like sales rose 0.9%.
Pre-tax profit for the year increased 1.9% to £874m.