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Morrisons to take first steps online with a new wine range

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Morrisons will take its first steps online later this year, selling wines from a new Morrisons Cellar range.

The move is the supermarket’s latest towards becoming a multichannel retailer, and builds on its 2011 acquisition of pureplay nursery retailer Kiddicare.

The news came as the supermarket unveiled its first-half results. Like-for-like sales fell by 0.9% in the six months to July 29, while turnover rose by 2.3% to £8.9bn, from £8.7bn at the same time last year. Pre-tax profits were down to £440m from last time’s £449m.

Morrisons said it would use the technology platform it acquired with pureplay nursery retailer Kiddicare as the foundation of the new wine offer. It also said it was continuing to work out how to develop a “unique and profitable online food model” for the UK through its review of subsidiary Fresh Direct’s US online food operation.

At the same time, it also put a date on the opening for the first of its new Kiddicare showroom stores, which will open in Nottingham in September. Two more will open by the end of 2012 with the remaining seven to open in 2013.

Chief executive Dalton Philips said: “Although the sustained pressure on consumer spending was reflected in our like-for- like sales performance, we have made further good progress against our strategic objectives - the building blocks which are the foundations of the future success of our business.

“By the end of the year our new Fresh Formats will be in over 100 stores and we are now ready to launch our convenience stores in London supported by our new distribution centre. We have also extended our food production capabilities and will launch wine as our first online category.”

Meanwhile Sir Ian Gibson, non-executive chairman, said commodity inflation had continued to weigh on "fragile consumer confidence" while market conditions had become "ever more challenging". "We have had to work even harder for our customers during the first half," he said.

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