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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Morrisons kicks off stores revamp
Morrisons sign
The conversion of Safeway stores to the Morrisons name is under way
Supermarket group Morrisons has reopened the first of the stores to be converted following its 3bn takeover of rival Safeway last month.

Former Safeway stores in Ripon, North Yorkshire, and Southport, Lancashire, on Friday began trading as Morrisons.

The Bradford-based chain plans to overhaul the 427-strong Safeway estate over the next three years.

It aims to convert three stores a week, with the refit of 50 large stores expected to be completed by November.

First step

Outlets in Chester and Bramley, West Yorkshire, should be finished by the end of this month.

Chairman Sir Ken Morrison, who stunned the retail world when he first bid for Safeway in January last year, reopened the first store in Ripon on Friday.

He said: "The opening of the first converted stores on schedule is the first step in delivering the promises we made to shareholders and other stakeholders when the takeover was completed."

The deal, which was finally sealed in March, gave Morrisons a greater presence in southern England and increased the pressure on Sainsbury's in the battle to be the UK's third-largest supermarket chain.

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