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Morrisons reports first quarter sales fall but rate of decline slows

Morrisons has reported that like-for-like sales in its first quarter dropped by 2.9% excluding fuel but the rate of decline has slowed from the same period a year ago when like-for-like sales fell by 7.1%.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Morrisons reports first quarter sales fall but rate of decline slows

In the 13 weeks to 3 May 2015, total sales excluding fuel were down 1.1%. Online contributed 1% to like-for-like during the period.  

Having joined the business on 16 March, chief executive David Potts said the company’s priorities included improving the customer's shopping experience and making its supermarkets strong again. 

He added: “We are listening hard to customers and colleagues and, wherever possible, we are responding quickly.”

Morrisons closed more stores than it opened during the period, which has resulted in a net reduction in selling space of over 50,000 square feet. In addition, steps are being taken to “simplify” the head office, which is expected to lead to one-off costs of £30 million to £40 million during 2015/16.

Potts 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."

The company said it anticipates that underlying profit before tax will be higher in the second half than in the first.

Morrisons added that a “full assessment” of the business was underway, but its focus continues to be to invest more for customers to build trading momentum.  

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