Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Morrisons reduces overseas stores

Morrisons has sold two former Safeway stores in Jersey and Guernsey, leaving the supermarket chain with just two overseas - its store in Gibraltar and another on the Isle of Man.

Both of those sites are now up for sale as the Bradford-based company centres its attention on the UK mainland.

The sale this weekend of the two Channel Island stores forms part of an ongoing review of the Safeway business, which Morrisons bought in March last year for £3bn.

"It confirms Morrison's strategy of focusing its business in the UK and follows last week’s announcement to local employees that the Safeway store in Gibraltar will be marketed in the near future,” Morrisons said in a statement.

The company said recently that it had received a number of unsolicited enquiries “from other retailers” about the Gibraltar store, although the Chronicle understands that property developers have also expressed interest in the site.

Morrisons said it continued to explore the potential sale of the Westside outlet but yesterday had nothing to add to its initial announcement.

“There’s been no movement as of yet,” said a Morrisons spokesman. “It stands as it did when we made the announcement.”

Apart from the Gibraltar site, the Safeway store in Ramsey, in the Isle of Man, is also up for sale.

Morrisons sold its other Safeway outlet in the Isle of Man capital Douglas last month, though the deal has yet to be formally concluded.

The stores in Jersey and Guernsey were sold for £51m to CI Traders, a listed company based in the Channel Islands. The CI Traders group, which includes existing retail outlets in Jersey and Guernsey, will keep the two stores open and assume responsibility for 400 employees.

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