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Morrisons scales back supermarket building plans

Morrisons has announced it does not intend to build any new full-size supermarkets after building out its current pipeline in 2015/16.

The announcement came as Morrisons reported pre-tax losses of £176m in the year to 2 February 2014, compared with pre-tax profits of £879m in 2012/13.

In 2013/14, Morrisons opened 18 new supermarkets and 90 M Local convenience stores, increasing its selling space by 812,000 sq ft.

Last September, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket said it would reduce its annual supermarket expansion by half, to around 350,000 sg ft a year, from 2014/15, from 2014/15.

However, chief executive Philip Dalton today announced it would further scale back those plans, and that Morrisons does not intend to build any more full-size ‘core’ supermarkets after 2015/16.

Mr Dalton said: “In 2014/15 we expect to open a total of 540,000 sq ft of new space, of which c.330,000 sq ft will be core grocery as we build out our existing pipeline.

“We will open a further c.300,000 sq ft of core space in 2015/16 as we complete the development of the remaining pipeline.

“Thereafter we will only acquire new supermarket sites in exceptional circumstances.”

Morrisons will continue to invest in its M Local convenience stores and intends to open around 250,000 sq ft of convenience space a year.

The retailer also announced that over the next three years it will sell off £1bn of its property portfolio, worth around £9bn overall.

Mr Dalton said: “We will do this through the disposal of our development assets, our newer distribution assets and our investment properties including, in a small number of cases where it makes sense to do so, the associated stores. We expect to realise £400m-£500m of disposals in 2014/15.”

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