The stars may be in alignment for Morrisons’ new leadership team to make a trolley dash for sales and gain ground on rivals.
The stars may be in alignment for Morrisons’ new leadership to make a trolley dash for sales.
Two recent developments indicate the retailer may have a chance to regain ground and is determined to seize the opportunity.
The latest Kantar grocery data last week revealed that Morrisons was the only one of the big four to put on sales in the last three months – helped by its late arrival in online retail – although its market share was still flat.
But chief executive David Potts has put his foot down harder on the price pedal. Morrisons this week slashed the prices of another 200 everyday essentials ranging from skimmed milk to Tampax.
That should help rebuild the reputation for value that was traditionally one of its key appeals to shoppers.
Potts will know that there is no time to be lost and this period following his arrival in March is crucial in setting the tone and signaling change.
He will also know that he is unlikely to have a better chance than he does now to gain ground because the embattled market leader, Tesco, is itself still only gropingly feeling its way forward.
One retailer with extensive experience in food told me that he believes Tesco has been surprisingly slow to take decisive action to restore its fortunes. So he thought that gives Potts the best opportunity he could hope for to get the motor running at Morrisons in the meantime.
The irony is that Morrisons’ top team is almost a Tesco in exile. Along with Potts there’s chairman Andy Higginson, chief financial officer Trevor Strain and – appointed last month – the pugnacious Darren Blackhurst, a former Tesco commercial director who also previously worked at Asda.
That team potentially brings to Morrisons some of the best characteristics of Tesco at the height of its powers such as speed, executional excellence and paranoia about doing the right thing for customers. Whether it’s price, range or the checkout experience, change is quickly becoming evident at Morrisons.
The grocer’s share price at present is below its year-high of 208.2p but above the low of 151.7p, and some brokers are encouraged. Shore Capital for instance this week reiterated its buy advice.
Potts has described Morrisons as the classic British “underdog” – but he and others seem confident that it can still bark.