Morrisons nears deal to offload M Local stores

Kasmira Jefford
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Morrisons chief executive David Potts
Morrisons is in talks to sell its convenience stores to the investment firm behind the rescue of Monarch Airlines as the struggling supermarket chain focuses on reviving its core business.

The Bradford-based retailer is said to be nearing a deal with a team of industry executives led by Greybull Capital to offload its M Local estate, which comprises around 150 stores.

A number of parties were rumoured to be interested after Morrisons an­nounced the closure of 23 M Local stores earlier this year. However, Greybull is now understood to be in exclusive talks, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

News of a potential sell-off comes after a torrid year for Britain’s traditional supermarkets struggling with fierce competition from German discounters and food price deflation.

Morrisons was particularly hard hit after its late entry into the online grocery and convenience market, forcing it to play a costly game of catch-up.

Dalton Philips was ousted from the business earlier this year and replaced by former Tesco director David Potts, who instantly set about making hundreds of redundancies in head office in order to increase the head count on the shop floor.

In March, Morrisons reported an annual pre-tax loss of £792m after taking a £1.3bn write down on the value of its supermarkets. The company said it would review its convenience store portfolio and put the breaks on further store openings.

Greybull is best known for saving Monarch Airlines last year after injecting £125m of funding to keep it flying. It is run by brothers Marc and Nathaniel Meyohas.

Morrisons declined to comment yesterday.

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