Safeway director leaves

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SAFEWAY, the supermarket group under pressure in the grocery battle, yesterday sought to play down the sudden departure of its trading director and a shake-up at its head office which will result in up to 50 redundancies. It denied the changes were the result of a further deterioration in its performance and indicated its trading statement next Tuesday would show the group is "heading in the right direction".

It confirmed that George Charters, the trading director, was leaving Safeway after two years in the job. Mr Charters was responsible for pricing, product availability and the supply chain, which have been behind some of Safeway's recent problems.