Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Morrisons cut jobs as profits fall

Morrisons is the UK's fourth largest supermarket, but saw profits drop seven per cent last year

Nearly 700 jobs are at risk at Morrisons as the supermarket cuts costs after a fall in annual profits.

The UK's fourth biggest supermarket is rolling out new machines to replace manual cash-counting in its back offices and has started a four-week consultation with 689 cash office managers and supervisors across its 490 stores.

The Bradford-based chain is under pressure to cut costs after 2012 profits fell 7% to £879 million. The latest job cuts follow its decision to axe 165 roles at its headquarters six months ago by outsourcing financial transaction processing to an Indian firm.

The company said: "The introduction of new technology is an ongoing programme to ensure that Morrisons continues to improve its competitiveness. The new technology will simplify the operation and mean that cash can be automatically counted."

Morrisons has been losing market share in recent weeks, with Kantar figures showing its slice of the grocery market slid to 11.7% in the 12 weeks to March 17, down from 12.3% a year earlier.

It blamed sliding sales over the key Christmas period on weak advertising of promotions and tough competition.

Its fledgling convenience operation and lack of online sales have also left it trailing behind peers. The retailer plans to rectify this by accelerating the roll-out of its M Local smaller store format to 100 sites by the end of the year and launching an online food offer by January next year.

As part of the internet push, it is in talks with online grocer Ocado about an agreement to share its operating knowledge.

Morrisons employs around 131,000 staff. Shares in the grocer were 2p lower at 277.3p.

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