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Morrisons said to be considering selling national distribution centre in Kemsley near Sittingbourne in bid to raise cash as sales decline

04 June 2014
by Chris Price

Troubled supermarket Morrisons is reported to be considering selling its distribution centre in Kent.

The site in Kemsley, near Sittingbourne, is among four which the chain is said to be planning to cash in on as part of a drive to appease investors in the face of declining sales.

In March, the company announced proposals to sell £500million of its £9bn property estate after posting pre-tax losses of £176m in the year to February, with sales down 2.8%.

Morrisons' national distribution centre near Sittingbourne

Morrisons' national distribution centre near Sittingbourne

Plans leaked to PropertyWeek.com say the business aims to sell four sites worth £223m, which are said to include the national distribution centre off the A249.

The supermarket would not confirm which sites are planned to be sold, but said an announcement would be made in the coming months.

“We intend to sell a small number of these sites, lease back the properties and reinvest the proceeds in other core areas of our business to the benefit of our customers, colleagues and shareholders..." - Morrisons spokesman

The sold land would then be immediately leased back to the chain, thus not affecting its operations but generating a cash influx.

The site is run by ADR Network, which has carried out operations for Morrisons there for more than five years.

The company denied any knowledge of plans to sell the land.

A Morrisons spokesman said: "In addition to being one of the country’s leading grocers and food producers, Morrisons also own many of the properties from which we operate.

"Without affecting day-to-day operations, we intend to sell a small number of these sites, lease back the properties and reinvest the proceeds in other core areas of our business to the benefit of our customers, colleagues and shareholders.

"Our intention was detailed in our recent preliminary announcement. However, details of the sites under consideration are confidential at this stage."

Morrisons' store in Neats Court, Sheppey

Morrisons' store in Neats Court, Sheppey

Morrisons owns about 90% of its stores – a far greater proportion than its rivals.

The company has already warned shareholders to expect profits to be halved this year as it cuts prices in an attempt to compete with discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Last month the chain ditched plans to build a new shop in Ashford but announced proposals to convert a former amusements in Whitstable High Street.

It is also seeking planning permission for a small site in Gravesend and opened a store at Neats Court on Sheppey in September.

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