Morrisons posts loss of £176M after ‘disappointing year’

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Morrisons pledged to take on the discounters after reporting a loss of £176M
Morrisons pledged to take on the discounters after reporting a loss of £176M

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Morrisons has reported a £176M loss in full-year results to February 2, compared with a previous profit of £879M, as the supermarket revealed plans to slash costs and lower prices in a bid to battle the discounters.

Underlying profit before tax, stripping out property costs, fell by 13% to £785M, while turnover dipped 2% to £17.7bn.

Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, ex-VAT fell by 2.8%, after what chairman Sir Ian Gibson acknowledged was “a disappointing year”.

But Dalton Philips, chief executive, said Morrisons’ new “bold and comprehensive”​ strategy to strip £1bn of costs from the business, while reducing prices to combat discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl, will revive the retailer’s flagging fortunes.

‘Invest £1bn into our proposition’

“We are significantly reducing our cost base and will invest £1bn into our proposition over the next three years, to improve our value even further and to defend and strengthen our competitive position,”​ said Philips.

“Customers will see this in our stores as well as in our fast growing online and convenience offers. At the same time we will exit non-core activities, significantly reduce our capital expenditure and deliver improved operating cash flow and return on capital employed.”

Philips acknowledged Morrisons had some “very poor systems in our business“​, which offered scope for massive cost savings. For example, until recently the retailer had 15 tinned tomatoes (lines), which it had cut to five.

Morrisons was determined its business should not suffer at the hands of discounters, as had other sectors. “The fact is there are new entrants in the market – they are called the discounters, customers do shop in them and we are going to recognise it”, ​Philips told BBC Radio 4's The Today ​programme. “It is no different to what we have seen in other sectors – the legacy airline issue of the ‘90s. The discounters came in and they really impacted that sector. We are not going to let that happen to us – we are making bold decisive moves today.”

‘We are not going to let that happen to us’

But Morrisons’ new strategy was not to become a discounter itself but to close the price gap between itself and discount stores, while capitalising on the quality and provenance benefits of its offer. “In our core, it’s about getting closer on price – it’s not about being a discounter,”​ said Philips. “That’s where all the other attributes​ [quality and provenance] Morrisons has – that no one else has – kicks into play and you get your customer reappraisal.”

Meanwhile, the firm's online operation and convenience stores were separate businesses that “just need to grow to maturity”,​ he added.

The retailer predicted the challenging conditions of 2013 will continue this year, which had impacted profit expectations. Underlying profits in 2014/15 were forecast at between £325M–375M, after charging £65M of new business development costs and £70M of one-off, non-recurring costs.

City analyst Panmure Gordon concluded Morrisons' profit prospects were “truly awful”.


Morrisons’ results – at a glance

• Turnover down 2% to £17.7bn

• Like-for-like sales (ex-fuel, ex-VAT) down 2.8%

• Underlying profit before tax down 13% to £785M

• Non-recurring exceptional costs of £903M

• Loss before tax £176M

• Earnings per share 10.2p compared with 26.7p in 2012/13

• Underlying earnings per share down 8% to 25.2p

Source: Morrisons

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1 comment

Cock-up unlimited

Posted by Stan Clare,

Dalton Philips being the Chief Executive must carry the can for the terrible results just published. The true reversal, namely this years loss PLUS the profit last year is a BILLION quid.
What the hell has been going on? As a customer of Morrisons for donkey's years
viewing and buying across many stores, it
has been obvious for far too long, that this management wants a kick up the arse.
ALDI, LIDL & others have management that
are on the ball - not just prices, layout, location, staffing, weekly changes of offers. Within our area Morrisons have opened up a mega store. Costly to build,
admist heavy competition, manufacturing onsite. Now having to heavily discount
to clear stock daily - a guy starting on the markets would not have made so many
Ironically the site was originally the NW
Spar distribution depot - no retail!
Amateurish in the extreme -
If Dalton is to remain much longer, which I doubt, then he needs to be kicking backsides, 24/7. Old man Morrisons' family
must be writhing in anguish.
A new man will not necessarily be able to
alter things rapidly, but just like dry rot - its customers, staff & shareholders
need to see rapid action. As for our local mega store - that must be bleeding the
figures at a hell of a rate - yet presumably not in the current published data. Incidentally as a ex freelance journalist plus retailer - this cockup is very sad. A new idea team is no better than a tired crew - professional management top to bottom is called for.
Certainly one that arrests an out of control free fall BEFORE the outfit is
presented with a BLACK HOLE in the accounts. It cannot happen, unless you are asleep on the bridge! In Yorkshire, or Germany and America from where the competition run their affairs.

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