Morrisons share price down after sales fall, despite slower rate under new boss David Potts

Jessica Morris
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Morrisons' like-for-likes fell in the first quarter (Source: Getty)

The figures

The Bradford-based retailer said that like-for-likes excluding fuel were down 2.9 per cent in the 13 weeks to 13 May. However, this was slightly less than analysts' forecasts of a decline of three per cent.

Shares in Morrisons were trading down two per cent at 176.2 pence per share this morning.

Why it's interesting

This is the first trading update since David Potts took over from chief executive Dalton Philips who was ousted in January, after he failed to revive the retailers' performance during his five years at the helm.

Potts had been Tesco’s longest serving director, beginning his career as a shelf stacker in 1973, and rising to become head of its Asian business.

Morrisons said it will streamline its head office, cutting 720 jobs, and should save around £30m-£40m during 2015/16 from this. It's currently carrying out an assessment of the business and will give a more detailed update in September.

While sales continued to fall, it was slightly less than the 7.1 per cent decline during the same time last year.

The "big four" supermarkets are struggling amid competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl, food price deflation, as well as a tendency for people to do their food shop in convenience stores or online.

In a sign of the times, Sainsbury's yesterday reported its first annual loss in a decade, while Tesco made a far worse than expected loss of £6.4bn in the year to 28 February.

What Morrisons said

"My initial impressions from my first seven weeks are of a business eager to listen to customers and improve. I have been very pleased by the desire and support of colleagues, and by the genuine warmth and affection for Morrisons shared by both colleagues and customers," David Potts, chief executive, said.

"This is a business with many attributes, some unique. Our task is to use those advantages to improve the shopping trip for customers and create value."

In short

Morrisons' sales have fallen, however the rate of decline has slowed, and it expects underlying pre-tax profit to be higher in the second half of the year than the first.

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