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Morrisons store closures puts 900 jobs at risk as profits slide

Morrisons has announced plans to close 11 supermarkets, putting about 900 jobs at risk.

David Potts, the new chief executive, proposed the closures as part of a drive to turn the struggling company around.

They were announced as Morrisons reported that pre-tax profits fell by almost half from £239m to £126m in the six months to 2 August.

The year-on-year drop was driven by a 2.7% fall in like-for-like sales as Morrisons lost market share to the discounters Aldi and Lidl, and prices across the sector fall.

Potts, who became chief executive when Dalton Philips was fired earlier this year, said the supermarket faced a long journey to get back on track.

He has already pulled the company out of convenience stores. On Wednesday itannounced it had sold 140 M Local stores to Mike Greene for £25m. Greene has spent 20 years on the board of the Association of Convenience Stores and Greybull Capital, a controversial private investment group.

“Morrisons will be an organisation that listens,” Potts said. “During the first half, the new executive and leadership teams have been listening hard to colleagues, customers, suppliers and shareholders. They tell us there is a lot for us to do.

“The immediate priority is to deliver a better shopping trip to stabilise trading performance.

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“It will be a long journey. We approach the challenge with energy, confidence and many strengths, particularly our strong balance sheet and cash flow, which enables investment in improving the customer shopping trip.”

The proposed closure of the 11 supermarkets will cost Morrisons £20m. The company has also booked a loss of £30m on the sale of its M Local stores and is on the hook for a further £20m in rental payments if the stores fail under their new owners.

Morrisons shares fell 3% in early trading, to 170p

Source: https://www.theguardian.com

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