Morrisons to allow drive-thru Covid vaccinations at some stores
Morrisons will see some of its car parks used as Covid vaccine centres while bosses said they were keeping a close eye on stock levels to avoid a repeat of last March’s panic buying.
The supermarket giant revealed that three stores will be hosting jabs from next week with a further 47 sites being made available.
Chief executive David Potts said the assets of the company are “at the disposal of the country”.
“We’ll have three stores operating from Monday 11 January and we have offered up another 47 subject to requirements and availability of the vaccine,” he said.
Potts said the group would not introduce limits on certain products initially as the UK moves into new national lockdowns.
“We haven’t got limits on things like pasta and flour and all of those things that people seem to stock up on,” he said. “I think we’ll see how the British people handle the news.
“Clearly we can turn it on fairly sharpish and it’s really making sure that everyone has stock.”
He added that the new lockdowns, which include orders for vulnerable people to shield, are likely to affect the same 2,500 workers at the chain who were forced to shield during last spring’s lockdown.
The announcements came as the UK’s fourth largest grocery business revealed that sales jumped 9.3 per cent in the past three weeks, which included the key Christmas trading period, compared with the same time a year ago.
Morrisons added that customers did their Christmas shopping earlier than usual, with sales of champagne up 64 per cent compared with a year ago, along with a 40 per cent jump in salmon sales and a 14 per cent hike in Free From mince pies.
In the nine weeks to January 3 like-for-like sales were up 8.5 per cent and in the six months to the same date they rose 8.3 per cent compared with a year ago, helped by strong sales online and increases in its wholesale business of 24.4 per cent.
The group also managed to open three additional stores during the past six months, in Helensburgh, Glenfield in Leicestershire, and Dalton Park in County Durham.
Profits are expected to be between £190 million and £210m once the £230m business rates payment is made after the supermarket waived its right to claim the tax holiday.
Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Christmas get togethers may have been smaller, but that didn’t stop us making the most of festivities.
“Sales of champagne and salmon swam decidedly upstream over Christmas this year, helping the likes of Morrisons record some healthy sales figures.
“Morrisons is an underdog in some ways, especially when looking at the online business, which is smaller than some rivals. The pandemic has given the group a chance to address this, and digital sales have more than tripled so far this quarter.
“Starting from a lower base means there’s more room for exceptional growth, but the question now is if Morrisons can keep a firm grasp on that momentum, and push growth long and hard enough to give its competitors something to worry about.”
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