Morrisons hails ‘solid’ performance despite drop in sales
Published:  10 May, 2013

Morrisons’ like-for-like sales fell 1.8% in what the retailer called a “solid start” to the year, in a statement yesterday.

For the 13 weeks to 5 May, 2013, the supermarket chain said its performance reflected a “steady improvement” on the previous quarter and was in line with its expectations.

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Phillips said: “We have made a solid start to the year, with our sales performance improving since the last quarter. Our promotions have been more innovative and we are explaining Morrisons points of difference more effectively.”

Phillips said the horsemeat issue had helped drive customer recognition of its supply chain and approach to meat sourcing. “They now understand that Morrisons is best placed to sell food that is what it says it is,” he said.

The company’s ‘More of What Matters’ campaign had helped communicate its vertically integrated business to customers. “These points of difference particularly resonated with customers during the recent horsemeat scandal - the Food Standards Agency’s rigorous testing programme found no adulteration of Morrisons products with horsemeat,” said a statement.

Morrisons will continue to look at new channels, such as online, said Phillips. “Strategically, our ambition of building a genuinely multi-format, multi-channel Morrisons is right on track.” The company is planning to open its first online food operation by the beginning of 2014 and is in discussions with Ocado.

It has also continued to develop its Fresh Format concept, which will be rolled out to more than 40% of its estate by the end of this year. The format has seen the modernisation of the supermarket’s Market Street concept, which has received “extremely positive” customer feedback, it said. The company opened six new stores, which included two new convenience ‘M Local’ stores, and is buying 80 stores to extend the ‘M Local’ convenience offer.

Net debt of £2.3bn was in line with expectations and Phillips said full-year expectations would remain unchanged due to the economic climate and consumer spending.