Morrisons has announced its steps to take “immediate action” as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.
These include its promise for a pay guarantee for all “sick and affected” colleagues, and more flexibility around shifts and annual leave.
It also announced plans to expand its online delivery capability to more than 100 stores over the coming weeks.
The supermarket giant will also use its “strong cash flow” to make immediate payments to its small suppliers during this time.
In its latest statement, the group described Covid-19 as a “severe threat”, and said that its “primary focus” was the health and safety of its colleagues and customers.
The group announced it is now “liaising and co-operating with all the relevant authorities” to plan for different scenarios amid the outbreak, and has said that all colleagues are working to “ensure the supply chain operates as smoothly as possible” and shelves remain stocked.
In its preliminary results, posted alongside the update, Morrisons also revealed that revenue was down 1.1% to £17.5bn in its full-year results ended 2 February 2020.
Like-for-like sales were down 0.8%, though profit before tax was up 3.0% to £408m. It noted that sales had “been on an improving trend” since the start of the year, despite a “significant deflationary impact” of continued investment.
The group said that plans to announce “another special dividend” have been deferred amid the coronavirus crisis, in order to give the group “maximum future flexibility” around its prioritisation of strong cash flow uses.
The group also said it was operating from a “very robust” financial position, with a strong balance sheet, low debt and a “strong” maturity profile.
Andrew Higginson, chair, and David Potts, chief executive, said: “We are currently facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainty dealing with COVID-19.
“Looking after our colleagues and customers is our priority, ensuring that we have a clean, safe place to shop and work.”
He added: “At Morrisons, we have a strong, experienced, and above all, determined team of the best food makers and shopkeepers in Britain.
“We promise to work as hard as we can for customers, suppliers, and all stakeholders to keep our shops operating as smoothly as possible. Thank you to all our colleagues for your incredible efforts so far.”