WM Morrison aided by hunt for bargains

A NEW breed of super shopper is hunting down bargains and posting tips on social networks, supermarket chain WM Morrison said yesterday.

The chain, the UK’s fourth largest grocer, yesterday reported a profit of £947m in 2011 – up 8.4 per cent on the previous year. Chief executive Dalton Philips attributed some of the gains to “professional shoppers” who were cooking from scratch. He said: “We’ve been seeing [this] for the last six, eight months or so. They are customers who are spending to a specific budget – they are spending more time cooking at home, so cooking from scratch.

“And they are shouting about the bargains that they see out there, going onto social media checking for them and communicating them.”

Despite the rise in profits and record sales triggered by the opening of 34 new stores, the company urged caution on 2012 particularly as customers have been hit by higher petrol prices. Excluding fuel, sales were up 1.8 per cent. The company, which has seen its market share edge up, said its fresh food was selling well despite Tesco expanding its range.

Meanwhile the chain said that basic food prices soared with wheat up 32 per cent. “The general economic outlook combined with the fiercely competitive market will provide further challenges,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Richard Hunter.