John Wood
Morrisons has stepped up its expansion plans as it revealed interim figures that showed its like-for-like sales were well ahead of the figures Tesco announced earlier in the week, at 5.7% compared with 3.9%.
The no frills retailer had already announced plans to open seven new stores next year, but has added two more, at Catcliffe near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, and a rebuild at Anlaby, near Hull.
A further three stores are already planned for 2004 with other sites in negotiation.
Joint MD Bob Stott said the company would be particularly interested in any sites in the south-east, and revealed that negotiations on a third RDC in the south Midlands, which could service any southern stores, were at an advanced stage.
Referring to rumours that Asda might buy Safeway and sell off many of the stores, Stott said Morrisons would be interested if any sites became available.
He said growth had slowed from last year, but the figures in 2001 had been artificially boosted because many people had stayed at home and eaten in during the foot and mouth crisis.
Pre-tax profit for the 27 weeks ended August 11 was £114.5m, up 16.1% on last year, on turnover up 9.5% to £2.16bn.
It also reported a positive start to the second half with takings up 8.9% in the five weeks to September 15.

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