Morrisons said pre-tax profit was expected to fall within the range of £50m to £150m, well below analysts’ expectations of £225m to £275m.
The beleaguered retailer could also face an inquiry into its share dealings after Susan Pritchard, the niece of chairman Sir Ken Morrison, sold her shares in the group less than 24 hours before the profit warning.
Meanwhile, Morrisons is rebranding Safeway conversion petrol forecourts up to 12 weeks earlier than the stores themselves, leading to charges that it is confusing shoppers.
One of the latest forecourts to be revamped is the Anniesland store in Glasgow, where the main store is not due for conversion until September 29. Analysts have warned that the delay could be damaging trade, especially in new territories such as Scotland, where retail analyst Bryan Johnston said “the jury is still out on how Morrisons is perceived”.
A Morrisons spokesman admitted the situation was not ideal but said that the petrol stations were much easier to convert so these went first.
Brand expert Nick Lund of the Design Group sympathised with Morrisons plight, considering the scale of its refurbishment programme.
However, he was less positive about Morrisons’ decision to sell Safeway own-label goods in its core Morrisons stores as it looks to clear remaining stocks.