WORKERS at Morrisons supermarkets are set to share a £34m bonus pot after the company reported a 7% hike in full-year pre-tax profits.
The UK’s fourth biggest supermarket business, which has stores at Waterloo and Meltham in Huddersfield, posted profits of £655m with like-for-like sales 7.9% higher as it attracted 550,000 more customers through the checkouts.
The Bradford-based firm’s 124,000 staff will share £34m in bonuses – up 13% on last year’s pay-out.
The company said it planned to add another 350,000sq ft of new retail space this year on top of the 500,000sq ft it has agreed to take from the Co-operative Group.
But it said it was prepared for "extremely challenging" competition in the supermarket sector.
Chairman Sir Ian Gibson said: "These are challenging times for the UK economy, but while we are not complacent, we are confident that Morrisons’ offer meets and is in tune with the demands of our customers and the economic background."
The group’s annual profits on an underlying basis – excluding property gains – exceeded market forecasts to rise by 13% to £636m.
Latest figures from data from research group TNS Worldpanel showed that Morrisons increased its market share from 11.6% to 11.8% in the 12 weeks to February 22 as it lifted Christmas sales by 8.2%.
Chief executive Marc Bolland said the firm was scrapping further share buy-backs in order to put cash into store expansion. Morrisons has returned £146m to investors so far under an original £1bn buyback scheme, but will now halt the plans.