Morrisons has posted a 2.1% slump in like-for-like sales excluding fuel for its third quarter as it said consumer confidence remains fragile.

In the 13 weeks to October 28, 2012, Morrisons said it experienced lower than expected sales with total sales excluding fuel down 0.4%. 

The supermarket said “fragile” consumer confidence coupled with high levels of promotional activity created the tough trading conditions. 

The grocer also said Morrisons commercial director Richard Hodgson is leaving the day-to-day business. Hodgson was one of chief executive Dalton Philips’ first key hires two years ago when he poached him from Waitrose.

Morrisons corporate services director Martyn Jones has been appointed interim commercial director as the supermarket searches for a successor for Hodgson.

Morrisons said it is making good progress in delivering strategic initiatives, introducing the Fresh Format, its high-end fresh food shops, to another 35 stores and it is on track to reach 100 stores by the end of the financial year. Morrisons said it is “pleased with their progress both in terms of sales performance and customer feedback”.

The own brand relaunch, which will include 10,000 products, is also “progressing well” and it has introduced a “crucial” supply chain management system as part of its IT infrastructure project Evolve.

Morrisons also launched its online wine business in the period called Morrisons Cellar. 

Morrisons said it has also put measures in place to better market the brand and communicate with customers its “key points of difference”.