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Morrisons profits take 51% dive

Profits at Morrisons have dived by more than half after the supermarket chain's sales were savaged in the industry's ongoing price war.

Morrisons profits take 51% dive Credit: Press Association

Like-for-like sales slumped by 7.4% in the half-year to August 3, while underlying profits dropped 51% to #181 million as the Bradford-based company committed more money to lowering its prices.

It is six months into a three-year turnaround plan involving an "enormous amount of change and modernisation" but said it was too early to see the impact of this work on sales.

Conditions are tough, and the industry is going through unprecedented change.

– Sir Ian Gibson, Chairman

Tesco and Morrisons have been the major casualties in the recent shake-up of the sector, with Tesco recently cutting its half-year dividend payment by 75% in order to preserve funds for new chief executive Dave Lewis. Morrisons said today that its financial position remained strong and that it would increase its interim dividend payment by 5%.

Although it is too early to see the benefits of the three-year plan in the sales line, Morrisons is getting back on the front foot, and implementing change and innovation at real pace throughout the business

– Dalton Philips, Morrisons Chief Executive
  1. National

First-half profits at Morrisons slump by 51%

Britain's fourth largest supermarket Morrisons has announced a 51 per cent slump in its first-half profits as it posted its lowest figures for eight years.

Morrisons trails Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's in annual sales. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Bradford-based group said it made an underlying pre-tax profit of £181 million in the six months to Aug. 3.

Turnover fell 4.9 per cent to £8.5 billion, while sales at stores - excluding fuel and VAT sales tax - fell 7.4 per cent.

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Supermarket giants to cut 2,600 management posts

Morrisons logo

Bradford-based supermarket giants Morrisons has today begun discussions with staff and unions about a simpler management structure , which will result in the loss of 2,600 jobs.

The changes would modernise the way stores are managed with the aim of reducing in-store management tiers, simplifying responsibilities and improving customer service.

Some Morrisons stores currently have seven tiers between the shop floor and the store manager.

The company has already trialled the new management structures and fsya that it led to stronger performance.

Dalton Philips, Morrisons Chief Executive, said: “This is the right time to modernise the way our stores are managed. These changes will improve our focus on customers and lead to simpler, smarter ways of working.

“We know that moving to the new management structure will mean uncertainty for our colleagues and we will be supporting them through the process.”

Implementing the new store structure would bring together department managers and supervisor positions into a single and smaller tier of team managers. From this group Morrisons is proposing to promote 1,000 into new duty manager roles to strengthen the senior management team in each store.

Morrisons expects the proposed changes to the management structure will involve around 2,600 redundancies.

This year, 1,000 jobs will be created in Morrisons M local convenience stores and an additional 3,000 in new supermarkets. Morrisons will look to offer displaced colleagues the opportunity to work in these growing businesses.

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Morrisons chairman to stand down

Sir Ian Gibson Credit: ITV Yorkshire

The chairman of Bradford-based supermarket giants Morrisons, Sir Ian Gibson, has announced that he will stand down at next year’s annual general meeting.

The news came ahead of today’s AGM at the group's head office on Gain Lane which follows a loss-making year in 2013 as Morrisons sales continued to be squeezed by low cost competitors.

Morrisons said it would conduct ‘an orderly process’ to find a successor and further announcements will be made, as appropriate.'

Sir Ian said: "This term will take me into my eighth year on Wm Morrisons Board and this announcement gives the Board time to conduct an orderly search for a new chairman and ensure a smooth transition."

Sir Ian, who joined the company as non-executive deputy chairman in September 2007, was appointed chairman following the retirement of Sir Ken Morrison in March 2008.

Jobs at risk at Morrisons' distribution centre

A workers' union says it is in talks with Morrisons over job losses at the Wakefield distribution centre.

A hundred jobs at risk in Morrisons' distribution centre Credit: Press Association

The Yorkshire based supermarket announced that up to 100 jobs are to be lost at the centre.

Unite are in discussions over the closure of one of the warehouses at the Junction 41 site and it is thought that most job losses will be among warehouse staff.

Some workers also face a reduction in their working week from 45 to 40 hours a week and others a move from the night shift to days. T

The company is also looking to increase the flexibility of their drivers by making changes to their working patterns

Morrisons announce further sales slump

Morrisons revealed a deeper slump in sales today as the effects of a price war in the supermarket sector continued to bite.

Morrisons reveal deep sales slump Credit: Press Association

The Bradford-based chain said like-for-like sales - trading in stores open for longer than a year - dived by 7.1% in the 13 weeks to May 4. This was much weaker than the 4.5% drop forecast in the City and meant overall sales were down by 4.2% in the first quarter of its financial year.

Last week, Morrisons launched an "I'm Cheaper" campaign which cut prices across 1,200 products by an average of 17%.

The move came after Britain's fourth biggest supermarket stumbled to a £176 million annual loss in March and issued a profits warning, sending shares down 12%.

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consultancy Conlumino, described the latest figures from Morrisons as woeful, particularly as they followed a 1.8% decline in the same period a year earlier.

He said: "The issue for Morrisons is that if its price cuts do not deliver increased volume, they will simply have a negative impact on profitability and will weaken the chain still further. Sadly, we believe this is a distinct possibility."

The firm is planning to invest £1 billion over the next three years to improve its competitiveness and will also launch a new loyalty card scheme. Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said today: "The plans we set out at our results in March are on track.

£1 billion of investment expected over the next three years Credit: Press Association

The reaction of our customers to the 1,200 'I'm Cheaper' price cuts we announced last week has been very positive.

The business maintained its underlying full-year profit before tax range of between £325 million and £375 million.

"Although it will take time for their full impact to be felt, we are confident that these meaningful and permanent reductions in our prices will enable our clear points of difference to resonate strongly with consumers."

The big four supermarkets - Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons - have seen their sales squeezed in recent years between discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl and upmarket rival Waitrose.

Morrisons added that its fledgling online sales business had done well in Warwickshire and Yorkshire and would begin deliveries in London next Monday.

The supermarket said that by the year-end its online business will reach up to 50% of UK households and, together with its smaller convenience stores, is expected to account for more than £500 million of sales per year.

Criminal inquiry into Morrisons' data leak

The criminal inquiry into the data theft from Bradford-based Morrisons is being led by West Yorkshire Police.

Press Association

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Wallen said: "We are aware of the situation and are supporting Morrisons and their investigation into these matters."

It is the latest blow to Morrisons, a day after it announced that it had plunged into the red for the year to February 2, a year after reporting pre-tax profits of £879 million.

Earnings were wiped out amid declining sales and exceptional costs of £903 million from write-downs on the value of its stores and the planned sale of its poorly-performing children's wear retailer Kiddicare.

Like-for-like sales fell 2.8% as Mr Philips pledged a fresh strategy to take on the threat from discounters Aldi and Lidl by slashing prices.

He said the grocery sector was facing the biggest structural shift since the advent of supermarkets in the 1950s.

Mr Philips said Morrisons had the most to lose as shoppers were now choosing to save by using the likes of Aldi and Lidl even if they were no longer struggling to make ends meet as the economy improved.

The store is to invest £1 billion over the next three years to improve value and competitiveness and will also launch a new loyalty card scheme.

It began rolling out an online grocery offering just eight weeks ago, many years later than rivals, and is also concentrating on increasing its smaller convenience stores while scaling back new supermarket plans - expecting not to build any after 2015/16.

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