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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 07:42 GMT
Morrisons delivers profits rise
Morrisons store
Morrisons is now Britain's fourth largest supermarket chain
Supermarket group William Morrison - which last week sealed the takeover of rival Safeway - has reported a healthy rise in profits.

The family run group said its annual pre-tax profits rose 13.2% to 319.9m ($583.8m).

The combined Morrisons/Safeway group is now Britain's fourth largest supermarket chain.

Chairman Sir Ken Morrison said: "A solid team performance delivered the goods once again."

Takeover victor

Morrisons' 3bn acquisition of Safeway brought to an end one of the most keenly-contested UK takeover struggles in recent years.

The Bradford-based group sparked a bid battle for Safeway last year after launching a 2.9bn offer for the firm.

It claimed victory after the government ruled against rival supermarket groups' bids on competition concerns.

Morrisons said it had received "great interest" in the 52 Safeway stores the UK market regulator has required it to sell as a result of the takeover.

The battle for Safeway
9 January 2003: Morrisons makes 2.9m bid for Safeway
14 January: Rivals Asda and Sainsbury's make it a three-way takeover battle
20 January: Billionaire Bhs owner Philip Green throws his hat into the ring
22 January Tesco launches Safeway bid. US buyout specialist Kohlberg Kravis Roberts also expresses interest
26 September: Morrisons given go-ahead for bid after inquiry by UK competition watchdogs
15 December: Morrisons makes fresh 3bn offer for Safeway

Morrisons' acquisition of Safeway - which will give the grocer a bigger slice of the market in southern England - increases the pressure on Sainsbury's for third place in the UK supermarket rankings.

The enlarged group will operate more than 550 stores, and plans are already in place to rebrand many of the larger Safeway stores as Morrisons.

Britain's big three supermarket chains - Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's - all made counter-offers for Safeway, along with billionaire retail entrepreneur Philip Green.

The group is also considering converting nearly 180 medium size Safeway stores into a "Morrisons Compact" brand, to challenge the likes of Tesco and Sainsburys which operate smaller branded town centre outlets.

Morrisons seals Safeway takeover
08 Mar 04  |  Business
Shareholders back bid for Safeway
11 Feb 04  |  Business
Safeway's seasonal sales slump
19 Jan 04  |  Business
Supermarket price war predicted
12 Jan 04  |  Business
Morrisons in 3bn bid for Safeway
15 Dec 03  |  Business
What now for Safeway suitors?
26 Sep 03  |  Business

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