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18 Mar 2020 | 07:47

Morrisons to expand online capacity, guarantee staff pay

(Sharecast News) - Morrisons said on Wednesday that it was expanding its online delivery service and guaranteeing staff pay as it reported a rise in full-year pre-tax profit. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the supermarket chain said it was expanding its online store-pick capacity to more than 100 stores in the coming weeks, guaranteeing pay for sick and affected staff and introducing more flexibility around shifts and annual leave. In addition, it will make immediate payments to its small suppliers.

"We are liaising and co-operating with all the relevant authorities to plan for different scenarios," it said. "Our colleagues in stores, offices, manufacturing and distribution are working to ensure the supply chain operates as smoothly as possible and we keep stock on the shelves."

The measures were announced alongside the company's results for the year to 2 February, which showed a 3% rise in profit before tax and exceptionals to ?408m and a 43.6% jump in statutory pre-tax profit to ?435m. However, total revenue fell 1.1% to ?17.5bn, while total revenue excluding fuel was down 0.8%.

Morrisons said that in the first six weeks of 20/21, like-for-like retail sales rose 5% after "considerable stocking up", no doubt on the back of concerns about the coronavirus.

The retailer said it had been planning to announce another special dividend. However, it has decided to defer the decision "given current unprecedented events around Covid-19".

"This gives us maximum future flexibility around how we prioritise uses of our strong cash flow, and we will keep our capital allocation options under review," it said.

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