Digital star quits Morrisons in surprise move

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

More turmoil for Morrisons as its head of digital development quits
More turmoil for Morrisons as its head of digital development quits

Related tags: Morrisons, Supermarket

Beleagured retailer Morrisons has suffered another blow with the departure of Simon Harrow, one of the rising stars of its emerging digital business.

A spokeswoman for Morrisons confirmed that Harrow, head of digital development at the retailer and Kiddicare, had left the business. “We can confirm Simon Harrow’s departure from Kiddicare,” ​a spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk but refused to comment further.

Harrow, the former chief operating officer at Kiddicare, moved to Morrisons when the retailer acquired the baby equipment supplier two years ago. His appointment was viewed as part of the retailer’s bid to step up its online sales, one area, along with a lack of convenience stores, that was blamed for Morrisons’ poor performance last year.

‘A disappointing performance’

The decision to quit follows an announcement last month from Morrisons’ boss Dalton Philips that the retailer planned to sell Kiddicare, after what he described as “a disappointing”​ performance.

The departure is the latest of a series of blows to Morrisons, as it struggles to battle sharp competition from discount retailers Adli and Lidl and from the other big three supermarkets, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury together with premium outlets such as Waitrose.

Morrisons’ share of the UK grocery market fell by 0.5% in the 12 weeks to March 30 compared with the previous year, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel, released yesterday (April 8). Out of the big four supermarkets, Morrisons suffered most, while Aldi achieved a record 35.3% increase sales growth to boost its market share to 4.6%.

Lidl’s sales rose by 17.2%, while Waitrose managed to claim 5% of the grocery market.

Pre-tax losses of £176M

Earlier this year, Morrisons dismayed City analysts with a report of pre-tax losses of £176M for the year to February 2, compared with a pre-tax profit of £879M the year before. Turnover at the nation’s fourth biggest supermarket chain fell by 2% to £17.7bn, after what chairman Sir Ian Gibson acknowledged was a “disappointing year for Morrisons”.

Harrow’s exit follows the high-profile resignation of George Dymond, who was recruited to run the retailer’s online grocery service, in January. Dymond left the business just weeks after his appointment and was later appointed as operations development director at supermarket rival Tesco.

Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital Stockbrokers, said yesterday the British retail sector was undergoing turmoil not seen for a generation. The reason was not the sharp pricing of discount retailers but the fact that the big four supermarkets had been “asleep at the wheel”​,​ he told a meeting in London.

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