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Morrisons continues to invest in online despite move away from convenience stores

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Morrisons this week said it would continue to invest in online trading, and that convenience remained an important sales channel for it, a day after it unveiled a deal to sell 140 M local convenience stores in a £25m deal.

The supermarket reported first-half turnover of £8.1bn, down by 5.1% in total compared to the same time last year, and by 2.7% on a like-for-basis, including a 1% contribution from the online sales channel. Pre-tax profit of £126m was well down on last year's £239m, in the half-year to August 2.

It said online remained important in its business, and, despite its previous move to shift away from investment in M local stores, it said convenience remained an important channel for the future. Losses related to new business development in online and convenience came to £30m, down from £38m last time.

In its half-year statement it said: "We remain pleased with the key customer metrics of our online business and are on track with our original plan. We are also considering the broader digital opportunity, and how we can grow our online proposition while achieving an attractive return on capital."

And it added: "Convenience remains an important growth channel, and we will continue to consider capital-light, returns-enhancing opportunities in the future."

The company set out strategic priorities that include being more competitive, serving customers better, finding local solutions, developing popular and useful services, simplifying and speeding up the organisation and making the core supermarket business strong again.

Chief executive David Potts said: "Since joining Morrisons , I have been struck by the passion and commitment of all our colleagues, and I want to thank them for their continued good work. Our colleagues have the key role in delivering an improved shopping trip for customers both in stores and online.

"Morrisons will be an organisation that listens. During the first half, the new executive and leadership teams have been listening hard to colleagues, customers, suppliers and shareholders. They tell us there is a lot for us to do.

"The immediate priority is to deliver a better shopping trip to stabilise trading performance. Our six strategic priorities will then deliver improvement in the core supermarkets, where we have the greatest opportunity.

"It will be a long journey. We approach the challenge with energy, confidence and many strengths, particularly our strong balance sheet and cash flow, which enables investment in improving the customer shopping trip."
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