Morrisons has created the role as part of its rebranding drive under chief executive Marc Bolland, who has injected a new branding verve into the UK’s fourth-biggest supermarket since he took the helm in September 2006.
The recruitment move follows Morrisons’ hiring of Angus McIver, who was previously marketing director at financial services company Prudential, for the newly created role of group marketing and communications director this month.
This week, Morrisons head of marketing Michael Bates told Retail Week: “The role [head of brand] reflects the importance of Morrisons as a brand to our business.”
Bolland, who was previously chief operating officer of brewery Heineken, has initiated a raft of rebranding initiatives aimed at giving the Bradford-based grocer more marketing clout.
Earlier this year, Morrisons overhauled its dated logo to give it a lighter and fresher appeal, although some industry watchers thought a more radical makeover was needed.
This summer, the grocer kicked off the first of a series of TV advertisements promoting its fresh food credentials, featuring presenter Denise Van Outen.
Since then, Liverpool football legend Alan Hansen and sports presenter Gabby Logan have featured in the campaign, which helped Morrisons improve its like-for-like sales by 3 per cent in the seven weeks since July 29.
The sales improvement was significant, because it followed an outbreak of E. coli linked to its store in Paisley, Scotland, this summer. In August, Morrisons said it had been cleared of any link with the outbreak.
This week, a former Morrisons executive told Retail Week that when he met Bolland it was clear that the Dutchman was on a mission to sharpen up Morrisons’ branding. Bolland admitted in March that Morrisons’ brand could pack a harder punch, particularly promoting the fresh food cooked in its stores.
Further branding changes are likely next year, when Bolland could feel emboldened to make more radical improvements once chairman Sir Ken Morrison retires.
Morrisons still has to convince some in the City that it has a formula to deliver stronger sales than its three big rivals in the long-term, although its profit growth of 57 per cent to£247 million for the 25 weeks to July 29 was impressive.
But, under Bolland, Morrisons seems set to become a sharper branding machine that will woo customers both in the South and its traditional northern heartland.