Morrisons announces store closure plans

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Supermarket staff at Morrisons stores across Lancashire are facing an uncertain future today after bosses announced the closure of 11 of its larger outlets.

It remains unclear if the move – which puts 900 Morrisons jobs at risk – will affect the Lancashire stores.

This will be a long and challenging journey but an important one for one of Britain’s great retailers

Chief executive David Potts

This latest news comes just days after Morrisons confirmed 40 of its smaller M Local convenience stores would be sold for around £25m to concentrate on its larger supermarkets.

The chain announced pre-tax profits for the half-year to August 2 fell 47 per cent to £126m while like-for-like sales for the period dropped 2.7 per cent compared with the same period last year.

New chief executive David Potts said the group faced a “long journey” to turn around its fortunes.

“With great regret we are proposing to close 11 supermarkets. This is a difficult decision but one which we cannot see any way through to make those stores viable,” he said. “This will be a long and challenging journey but an important one for one of Britain’s great retailers.”

He would not disclose the location of the sites straight away with the decision only just being announced to staff.

Morrisons said it had opened just one new store this year and did not plan to open any more in the remainder of 2015/16 while it expected the sales contribution from net new stores to be negative.

The group said: “We have seen no change in shopping habits, with customers continuing to shop around for value and shopping more frequently. In addition, as we continue to lower prices, deflation has been a consistent recent feature of our LFL (like-for-like sales).”

The company has been criticised for being slow to get into the online and home delivery market.