Shares in top Australian food and general merchandise retailer Coles Myer plummeted 15% after the group warned full-year profits would fall well short of expectations. Chief executive Dennis Eck warned net profit after one-off costs for the year to July 29 was likely to be down between 7% and 15% from forecasts made in February. However he stressed comparisons with last summer would always be unfavourable owing to a major promotion in June 2000 and the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) last July. Operating profit for the year to July 2001 is "anticipated to be minimal". Coles operates over 2,000 stores in Australia and New Zealand including the successful Bi-Lo and Coles supermarket chains, the fast-food Red Rooster chain, and off licence chain Liquorland. Chief executive Dennis Eck said the general merchandise division was struggling although integrating the Myer Grace, Target and Kmart businesses would generate "significant savings" in the next financial year. {{NEWS }}