Morrisons puts faith in convenience and online

Morrisons will use its convenience and online businesses to bolster its growth, chief executive Dalton Phillips has indicated.

In a video statement to coincide with the company’s interim results for the half year to 4 August, Phillips described the supermarket chain’s future plans to scupper falling like-for-like sales shown in the statement. However, such slow figures are reflective of Morrisons’ investment in making the company a better performer.

Although total sales for the period were up by 0.8%, Morrisons’ underlying profit fell by 10% to £401m, while underlying earnings per share were down 2%.

However, in his video, Phillips said; “We’re a business that is working at pace to ensure we are fit for the future. We’re accelerating the roll-out of our convenience stores, almost 50 Morrisons ‘M’ Locals are up and running, and by the end of the year we will have almost 100 stores.

He also revealed that customers would be able to shop online, using “the best” technology and said things like multi-device access, one-hour delivery slots and delivery tracking would boost the chain’s digital shopping offer.

Industry-leading technology was moving Morrisons’ out of the 1980s and Phillips said sales were improving, “still in negative territory”, but improved on previous quarters.

More prominently, however, he said the future for Morrisons and the sector was not in larger and larger supermarkets. “The way people shop today is really changing,” he said.

Phillips also said the company was looking at its property portfolio to look at opportunities to deliver better working-capital and investment online will reduce Morrisons’ capital expenditure to just over half its current level by 2016.

Meanwhile, of the half-year results, non-executive chairman Sir Ian Gibson said: “Our financial position is strong and we remain focused on maximising returns from our assets and delivering superior shareholder returns. Once again our interim dividend is increased by 10%, in line with our previous commitment.”

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