Struggling supermarket Morrisons slumped to an annual loss of £176m amid falling sales and one-off costs of £903m.
Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket fell into the red in the year to February 2 after a profit of £879m the year before. The £903m charge included write-downs on the value of its stores and its 2011 acquisition of online children’s wear retailer Kiddicare, which it now plans to sell in the wake of a poor financial performance.
Like-for-like sales at Morrisons were down 2.8% for the year.
The grocer, which belatedly began rolling out an online operation earlier this year, also warned that the “challenging consumer and market environment” would persist into the current year. Chief executive Dalton Philips said it was investing £1bn over the next three years to improve value and “defend and strengthen our competitive position”. Mr Philips unveiled an aggressive price-cutting strategy to take on discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, saying: “We are going to lower our prices on a permanent basis.” But the move, part of a plan which also includes selling off £1bn worth of property, was not enough to reassure anxious investors.