06 September 2012 10:43
Supermarket Morrisons has announced that it will be slowing its store expansion ahead of its long-awaited online launch.
Sales at the fourth biggest grocery chain fell 0.9% in the six months to July 29th whilst profits dropped £9 million to £440 million. However, underlying profits were 1% higher, helped by cost savings and efficiency measures and defying City expectations of a fall.
The company said that it will focus expansion on new stores in the south of England – where it is currently under-represented – including its first 'M Local' convenience stores in London. The retailer is also rolling out more stores with an increased focus on its fresh food offer. However, it will focus much of its attention on its first steps into online grocery, starting with a new Morrisons Cellar wine range later in this financial year.
The company acquired a 10% stake in US food delivery business Fresh Direct last year and has just sent a team to New York in order to bring back knowledge and experience to the UK business.
Chairman Sir Ian Gibson said: "With ongoing commodity inflation continuing to weigh on already fragile consumer confidence and market conditions becoming ever more challenging, we have had to work even harder for our customers during the first half."