The new Somerfield management team has announced a u-turn in the company's plans, taking 350 Kwik Save stores off the market. The announcement caused a sudden drop in share price last week after the City baulked at the third change of direction in quick succession. It is the first major decision taken by the pairing of executive chairman John von Spreckelsen and chief executive Alan Smith. Smith said the Kwik Save stores still produce a contribution despite the sales decline of the past two years, and the "clarity" brought to employees and customers by last week's decision will help the business succeed. Offers for the shops are believed to have been well below what Somerfield thought they were worth. Smith would only say that the majority of offers came from venture capital companies and the "time and effort that would be involved in negotiating a deal will be better used in running the stores". Somerfield will also hold on to 41 Somerfield stores which were for sale. Of the 100 to 140 stores put on the market by former chief executive David Simons, only 46 were sold for about £130m. Kwik Save needs the investment of energy rather than capital, "though over time it will need marketing support and investment in the infrastructure of the stores," he said. All 350 Kwik Save fascia stores will be brought under one management team headed by new md, Simon Hughes. The sale of the stores would have been "immensely distracting", said Hughes, at a time when the business needs to concentrate on its turnaround. "Shareholder value will be better served by focusing our activities on retail skills and eliminating external diversions." The group's year ends on April 29 and a quarterly trading update will be made in May. The board will review the carrying value of the Kwik Save assets and expects to make a sizeable write down. This will be offset at least in part by the profit on the sale of the 46 Somerfield stores. The share price rallied slightly later in the week, up from 45p to 53.5p. A rumoured potential takeover by Nomura or Kolberg Kravis Roberts or a management buyout by David Simons are seen as the only hopes of a quick rally in share price. {{NEWS }}