Supermarket chain Morrisons is “working to improve” as company like-for-like sales (LFLs) excluding fuel increased 0.2% in the nine weeks to 3 January.In its Christmas trading statement, Morrisons said total sales excluding fuel were down 1.2% (down 1.7% including fuel). Sales contribution from net new space was negative (1.4%), following the recent disposal of 140 local stores and previously announced supermarket closures, but this was not unexpected.In more positive news, the company added that the LFL number of transactions was up 1.3% year-on-year in its core supermarkets, and online sales grew nearly 100% year-on-year.Analysts had expected a fall in sales at Morrisons, which has been under pressure from rivals – these latest figures are its first positive numbers in more than a year. They prompted a 10% surge in the company’s share price. In reaction to the statement, David Potts, chief executive, said: “We are pleased with our improved trading performance over the Christmas period.“While there is of course much more to do, we are making important progress in improving all aspects of the shopping trip, and our customers tell us they are pleased with the changes. In addition, we have made further progress in debt reduction, and our financial position is strong and getting stronger.”The retailer said that price-cutting over the Christmas period drove deflation of 3.2% (excluding fuel) and c.7% on a two-year basis. There were strong LFLs in premium products and sales of beers, wines and spirits improved following a category reset.Potts was also quick to praise staff for “helping their communities, especially in the north of Britain where the flooding has been so severe”.The futureLooking forward, the retailer said: “Our focus on simplifying and speeding up the business continues. Around 800 head office roles have been removed since the start of 2015/16. We are also bringing some teams, such as maintenance, in-house to enable us to serve stores and customers better.“Our financial position remains strong and strengthened further during the period, as we performed well in all areas of debt reduction.” Its initial guidance for 2015/16 year-end net debt was £1.9bn-£2.1bn which it reduced to under £1.9bn in November 2015. Its 2015/16 year-end net debt guidance is now being lowered to £1.65bn-£1.8bn. Online sales contributed 0.9% LFL for the nine weeks to 3 January.The new executive committee is now complete, with the appointment of Andy Atkinson as group marketing and customer director. Atkinson has held various senior commercial roles at Morrisons over the last four years.
For all the Latest Sports News News, Cricket News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps. highlights New Delhi: Virat Kohli’s childhood coach, Rajkumar Sharma, will now play a big hand in developing Delhi’s next cricketing talents. Sharma, who is the first and only personal coach of Virat Kohli, will now be heading the bowling department as Delhi look to make a big impression in the upcoming season of the Ranji Trophy. Sharma, a dronacharya awardee, has played nine first-class and three List A games for Delhi between 1986 to 1991. Under 54-year-old Sharma, the Delhi junior team had won the CK Nayudu (U-23) Trophy in the 2017-18 season and players like Hiten Dalal made the senior grade. When he wasn’t given a senior team assignment last year, he took up a short term assignment with the Malta national team for an ICC qualifying tournament.However, the more interesting appointment for Delhi will be the return of KP Bhaskar as the coach of the side. Bhaskar was Delhi’s coach during the 2017-18 season when they lost to Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy final at Indore. However, a public bust-up with Gautam Gambhir during the Vijay Hazare tournament in Odisha led to his ouster after the former India star had accused him of promoting factionalism in the dressing room while trying to end careers of a few young players. Bhaskar and Gambhir had a heated altercation after Delhi’s campaign ended with allegations of former India captain abusing the coach, something he has categorically denied. Mithun Manhas replaced Bhaskar during the 2018-19 season where the team didn’t particularly do well. Back in his playing days, Bhaskar was a domestic heavyweight for Delhi, scoring 5443 runs in 95 first-class games with 18 hundreds. He was a part of the Delhi team that won the Ranji Trophy in the 1988-89 season and also played the final against Bengal next year (1989-90).Also Read | Virat Kohli trolled for reading ‘Detox your Ego’ during first Test against West IndiesGambhir was handed a suspended four-match ban from first-class cricket for his ugly confrontation Bhaskar. An enquiry committee constituted by Delhi and Districts Cricket Association administrator Justice Vikramjit Sen, comprising chairman Madan Lal, Rajendra R Rathore and advocate Soni Singh found Gambhir guilty and termed the batsman’s behaviour as “serious” and “inappropriate”.However, Sen decided to “suspend the punishment for a period of two years ending on 30th March 2019” conditional on Gambhir accepting this order and not committing any similar transgressions. KP Bhaskar scored 5443 runs for Delhi but never played for India.Rajkumar Sharma will be heading the bowling department for Delhi.Delhi did not qualify for the knock-outs in the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy season.