Morrisons says Christmas sales disappointing

Kasmira Jefford
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MORRISONS chief executive Dalton Philips yesterday defended his strategy for the group after the grocer confirmed its position as the turkey among “the big four” this Christmas.

The grocer reported a 2.5 per cent slump in like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 30 December, despite the help from an extra pre-Christmas trading day compared with last year.

Philips said the performance was “disappointing” and admitted the grocer’s main challenge was “the accelerating importance” of online and convenience.

Philips added that while core customers stuck with the grocer over Christmas, it had lost “floating customers” to other grocers via promotions and vouchers.

He said Morrisons needed to improve on marketing and “shout about our points of difference” such as its skilled butchers and bakers.

The group announced it has promoted Nick Collard to marketing and customer director to spearhead its marketing strategy.

Morrisons has lagged behind rivals in moving online and opening convenience stores. It has opened 12 M Locals so far and plans to open another 70 by the end of this year.

The grocer has in the past been reticent about launching online grocery but Philips said Morrisons was looking closely at the idea and would update the market in March.

Defending claims that his role at the grocer is likely to come under scrutiny if sales continue to slide, Philips said: “It’s not just about month-on-month figures, you have got to look at direction of travel”.