Jobs confusion in takeover bid

STAFF at Felixstowe's Safeway store were today waiting to hear if their jobs were safe after the sale of the supermarket giant moved another step closer.

STAFF at Felixstowe's Safeway store were today waiting to hear if their jobs were safe after the sale of the supermarket giant moved another step closer.

Workers at the store in Grange Farm Avenue say they are "extremely confused" over the boardroom wheeler-dealing and speculation about the firm's future.

Last month Safeway announced it had accepted a £2.9 billion bid from rival Morrisons, which has a store in Ipswich.

But that deal sprang a whole raft of rumours as other supermarket companies – including Sainsbury's and US chain Wal-Mart, owners of Asda – said they were also interested in buying the company.

But now it seems that Morrisons is ahead in the race to acquire Safeway after an extraordinary general meeting at which shareholders approved the resolutions necessary to implement the offer to buy Safeway.

Commenting on the outcome, Sir Kenneth Morrison, executive chairman said: "We have clear plans for Safeway. The strength of Morrisons' retail offer, our tight cost control and benefits of scale will transform Safeway's performance.

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"A strong and competitive fourth force in national food retailing will ensure customers receive the lowest possible prices while suppliers benefit from fair and equitable terms.

"A marriage of Safeway and Morrisons can bring these advantages over any other combination."

Morrisons and Safeway are valued together at £5.5 billion, with combined sales of more than £12.6 billion and a market share of 16 per cent.

The new group would have 598 stores with selling space of more than 14 million square feet.

Morrisons, based in Bradford, is the UK's fifth largest food retailer, with 119 stores mainly in the northern half of England, while Safeway, based in Hayes in Middlesex, is the fourth largest with 479 stores.

Felixstowe's Safeway store and filling station opened about ten years ago and serves the west part of the town.

One worker said today: "We just wish it would be sorted because it is extremely confusing. One minute we are being bought by Morrisons and the next Sainsbury – we just want to know if our jobs will be safe."

Safeway and Morrisons expect the deal to save them £150 million a year, partly through merging head office and central management.

Safeway's larger – such as Felixstowe – will be converted into Morrisons.

Over the next three financial years, the group will invest £550 million per year on average in store conversions, new stores and infrastructure.

WEBLINKS: www.morereasons.co.uk

www.safeway.co.uk

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