Morrison staff due for pounds 400 profit share

THE 10,000 qualifying staff of Wm Morrison supermarkets stand to receive an average tax-free lump sum of about pounds 400 each in profit share after the Yorkshire-based group reported a 34 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to pounds 83.8m.

Morrison raised sales by 18 per cent to pounds 1.3bn in the year to 30 January. Stripping out the benefit of new store openings, like-for-like sales grew by 4.6 per cent. In the first few weeks of the new year, that accelerated to 7 per cent, boosted by favourable weather.

The pounds 97m raised from the rights issue in November 1991 boosted interest from a negative pounds 3.8m to a positive pounds 3.9m. Earnings per share grew 17 per cent and the final dividend of 0.64p makes a total of 0.8p, up 20 per cent.

The group plans to increase capital spending from less than pounds 100m to about pounds 140m this year and expects to open at least eight more stores, including shops in Wakefield, Shrewsbury, Harrogate and Bolton. It will begin work on a new pounds 20m-plus central distribution depot.

Morrison is gradually expanding further south, its southernmost stores being in Walsall and Stamford. Martin Ackroyd, finance director, said: 'If we found a suitable site in Peterborough, we'd open there, and if we open there, we'll probably go on to Cambridge, and so on.'

Morrison is alone among supermarket groups in depreciating land - by 1 per cent a year - in its balance sheet. That added pounds 1.1m to the depreciation charge.

Profit-related pay grew from pounds 3m, giving qualifying staff an average of pounds 340 each last time, to pounds 4.2m.