Bradford-based supermarket Morrisons has posted a full-year profit of £242 million after the chain closed stores in a bid to turn itself around.
The business saw underlying pre-tax profits fall from £345 million a year ago after closing unprofitable supermarkets and selling off convenience store outlets.
But it reported an improvement in like-for-like sales, with declines of 2% compared with a fall of 5.9% in 2014.
It comes after the group surprised the market over Christmas by reporting a 0.2% rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel in the nine weeks to January 3rd.
It was one of the few major supermarket chains to report a sales rise in the key festive trading period, with the industry gripped in a fierce price war with discounters Aldi and Lidl.
Morrisons closed 21 unprofitable supermarkets in the period, and in September sold off 140 M local convenience business. Last year it also axed around 700 jobs at its head office as it cut back on costs.
Morrisons said it will pull out of its loss-making convenience shops in order to concentrate on its supermarkets.
It said it will sell 140 M local stores for around £25 million in cash to retail entrepreneur Mike Greene, who is backed by family investment group Greybull Capital.
Mr Greene said the chain will be rebranded My Local, and he plans to keep all of its 2,300 staff. He added the new management plans to create 200 further jobs by opening 10 more stores.
Morrisons said after carrying out a review of the shops that the convenience business would have "required significant further investment" in new sites, lease commitments and additional capital spending to make a profit.
Milk farmers say an industry crisis has driven them to extreme measures - from emptying supermarket shelves of milk, to leading cattle through the grocery aisles. But has there been a breakthrough in the relationship between retailers - and the farmers who claim they're being treated unfairly? Today, talks led to Yorkshire-based supermarket Morrisons promising to take action - as Helen Steel reports.
Supermarket Morrisons is to launch a new brand, "Morrisons Milk for Farmers" which will sell at 10p a litre more than usual, with the extra money being passed on to the crisis-hit dairy industry.
The Bradford-based chain has been one of the main targets for protesters from the farming industry who have stripped milk from the shelves before dumping the produce or giving it away for free.
Industry leaders met Morrisons bosses to try to tackle falling milk prices which, the National Farmers Union (NFU) says, will lead to dairy farmers being forced to leave the industry in the next few weeks as they struggle to pay bills and face rising debts.
"We will be launching a milk brand that allows customers to pay a little more if they want to support British farmers. Called Morrisons Milk for Farmers, this product will sell at a 10p per litre premium to the standard Morrisons milk price.
"All of that premium will go directly back to the farmers that supply our processor Arla. It will go into stores in the autumn and is aimed at shoppers who want to directly support dairy farmers ." "Consumers can choose whether they want to pay more to support British dairy.
Andrew Skelton, a former employee of Morrisons supermarket has today (17 July) been found guilty of fraud, securing unauthorised access to computer material and disclosing personal data, and sentenced to eight years at Bradford Crown Court, in relation to stealing personal data belonging to nearly 100,000 Morrisons employees.
"Andrew Skelton was in a position of considerable trust with access to confidential personal information as Senior Internal Auditor at Morrisons.
He abused this position by uploading this information – which included employee’s names, addresses and bank account details onto various internet websites.
He then attempted to cover his tracks and implicate a fellow employee by using this colleague’s details to set up a fake email account.
Andrew Skelton’s motive appears to have been a personal grievance over a previous incident where he was accused of dealing in legal highs at work.
The potential loss to his victims and the sheer quantity of potentially compromised data was very significant and could have resulted in employees identities being stolen. Currently Morrisons has incurred costs of almost £2 million as a result of this fraud, costs have included professional fees, legal fees and fees incurred through attempts to safeguard their employees.
The sentence imposed today sends out a very clear message that we will robustly prosecute serious fraudsters such as Skelton who believe they are above the law.”
The new boss of Bradford-based supermarket Morrisons said the business was listening hard to customers after the chain reported another drop in sales today.
The 2.9% decline in like-for-like revenues for the 13 weeks to May 3 comes on top of a 7.1% fall posted by the supermarket business a year earlier.
David Potts, who has more than 40 years retailing experience at Tesco, took over as Morrisons chief executive in March after a year in which the chain slumped to a loss of £792 million.
He said: "My initial impressions from my first seven weeks are of a business eager to listen to customers and improve.
"I have been very pleased by the desire and support of colleagues, and by the genuine warmth and affection for Morrisons shared by both colleagues and customers. "This is a business with many attributes, some unique. Our task is to use those advantages to improve the shopping trip for customers and create value."
Mr Potts is carrying out a review of the business which will report back at the time of the group's interim results in September.
He has already announced plans to axe up to 720 jobs from the Bradford head office as part of a drive to beef up staff on shop floors.
The new boss of supermarket chain Morrisons is sending head-office staff onto the shop floor in a bid to improve communication with shoppers.
David Potts, who started work on Monday, told 2,000 office workers that he will be working in a store over Easter week and that he wanted them to do the same for at least one week each year.
He has urged workers at the Bradford-based chain to "listen hard" to customers and colleagues while they are on the shop floor as the company looks to reverse a period of falling sales and heavy annual losses.
I want to listen hard and respond to the views of as many customers and staff as I can.
I strongly believe that we are all retailers and we can learn how to serve our customers better when we are working in our stores or when we do our own shopping.
Mr Potts, who has more than 40 years retailing experience at Tesco, recently replaced Dalton Philips, who was ousted after leading the retailer since 2010.
The shop-floor initiative mirrors one put in place by new Tesco boss Dave Lewis before Christmas when he asked more than 4,000 employees including senior executives to stack shelves and operate tills.
Morrisons recently reported a loss of £792 million due to the lower value of its property estate while it posted a drop in like-for-like sales of 5.9%.
However, the sales trend improved in its most recent quarter with a decline of 2.6%.
The former head of tax at supermarket giants Morrison has been jailed for insider trading on his employer’s online grocery deal with Ocado.Read the full story ›
Morrisons has announced that chief executive Dalton Philips is to step down after five years at the helm of the struggling supermarket business.
The move was announced as the Bradford-based chain reported that like-for-like sales fell 3.1% in the six weeks to January 4.
Andrew Higginson, who is due to become chairman later this month, said the company's board believed the push to return the business to growth was "best done under new leadership.
Mr Higginson said it was "time for a fresh pair of eyes" over the business, although he pointed out that the company's Christmas performance was not a factor in the decision to change leadership.
Mr Philips said: "I'm very sad to be leaving but when a board wants to make a change you accept that and move on."
Morrisons also announced it is planning to close 10 loss-making smaller stores, putting more than 400 jobs at risk.
With the retailer's festive trading sales figures meeting City expectations, shares in Morrisons jumped 6% following the leadership change.
As part of a wider plan announced in March to invest £1 billion in price cuts over three years, initiatives from Mr Philips have included a new loyalty card
scheme promising to match prices at discounters Aldi and Lidl.
There have been signs that the strategy is starting to pay off after closely watched data from Kantar Worldpanel pointed to an improved sales trend.
Morrisons added today that a key performance indicator measuring items per basket was down by 0.2% on a year earlier compared with 2.4% earlier in the financial year. The decline in the number of transactions was also reduced.
A Morrisons employee has denied abusing his position to fraudulently disclose personal data at the Bradford-based supermarket firm.
Andrew Skelton, a senior internal auditor, denied charges under the Computer Misuse Act, the Data Protection Act and the Fraud Act. Skelton, 43, from Liverpool, was charged with the offences after an investigation at the Morrisons head office in Bradford.
The supermarket employee appeared at Bradford Magistrates' Court and spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth and to enter not guilty pleas.
The court clerk read the charges to Skelton, who stood in the witness box wearing a dark suit, pale blue tie and glasses.
He is accused of using a computer to gain unauthorised access to a programme or data with the intent to commit fraud; knowingly or recklessly disclosing personal data without the consent of the data controller; and conspiring to commit fraud by abusing his position with the intention of causing loss to Morrisons supermarkets.
All the offences are alleged to have taken place between November last year and March 20 this year.
Skelton was released on bail and will appear at Bradford Crown Court on December 16.