Morrisons’ boss to exploit ‘unique attributes’ as sales slide

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Morrisons' boss David Potts: exploiting the retailer's 'unique attributes'
Morrisons' boss David Potts: exploiting the retailer's 'unique attributes'

Related tags: Marketing, Morrisons

Morrisons’ boss David Potts has pledged to exploit the retailer’s “unique attributes”, as the retailer’s first-quarter trading results revealed like-for-like (LFL) sales down nearly 3%.

LFL sales, excluding fuel, fell by 2.9% in the 13 weeks to May 3. Sales over the period fell by 6.6% when fuel was included. Total sales excluding fuel were down 1.1% or 5.1% including fuel.

‘A business eager to listen’

Chief executive Potts said the priority was to continue to invest more for customers in order to build trading momentum. “My initial impressions from my first seven weeks are of a business eager to listen to customers and improve,”​ he said.

“I have been very pleased by the desire and support of colleagues, and by the genuine warmth and affection for Morrisons shared by both colleagues and customers. This is a business with many attributes, some unique. Our task is to use those advantages to improve the shopping trip for customers and create value.”

Morrisons’ financial position remained strong, claimed the firm. Net debt fell by about £150M to £2.2bn compared with £2.3bn at the end of 2014/15.

Closed more stores than it opened

During the quarter, Morrisons closed more stores than it opened during the period, which led to a net reduction in selling space of more than 4,645m2​.

The retailer said measures to “simplify” ​its head office were likely to bring one-off costs of £30M–£40M during 2015/16.

Underlying profit before tax will be higher in the second half than the first, predicted the retailer.

A full assessment of the business was underway and the firm promised to provide a more detailed update with the publication of the group’s interim results in September.

Results at a glance

  • LFL sales, excluding fuel, fell by 2.9%
  • Total sales, excluding fuel, fell by 1.1%
  • Total sales, including fuel, fell by 5.1% including fuel
  • Net debt fell by about £150M to £2.2bn

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