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Morrisons CEO David Potts has described the more than halving of its profits during the Covid pandemic as “a badge of honour”.

Despite the supermarket reporting an 8.6% year-on-year increase in sales in its full-year results today, profits before tax were down 62.1%, with Morrisons hit by £290m of Covid-related costs and almost £40m to restructure its online business to five times its pre-lockdown capacity.

However, Potts said his bigger concern was that Morrisons staff had stood up to be counted as the retailer went into a “war footing” to feed the nation during the pandemic.

“I wear the halving of profits as a badge of honour,” Potts said.

“The British people have had access to food because supermarket workers – and not just those at Morrisons – were required to become key workers.

“We were asking everyday ordinary people to go to work every day against a virus nobody understood. Frankly we could have made no profit and it would have been a result.”

Morrisons said profit before tax and exceptionals would have been up 5.6% to £431m before the repayment of £230m of waived government business rates relief.

Potts also announced it would be carrying out a review of services launched during lockdown, including doorstep delivery boxes for vulnerable groups and its raft of other food box services, as the UK emerged from lockdown.

“I think all of those the services we’ve built over the year we will have to critically examine. They have evolved massively since they were launched and were just boxes of toilet rolls. It’s up to us to keep thinking and keep doing.”

Morrisons revealed it was extending its 10% discount for NHS workers, first introduced in April 2020, for all of 2021.

The 10% discount will be available exclusively for NHS customers shopping in store and it is also offering all NHS workers a free Morrisons ‘anytime’ delivery pass, worth £65, giving them free delivery on their online shopping for a year.

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