Morrisons to improve focus on fresh food as commercial chief departs

Morrisons: 2012 TV campaign
Morrisons: 2012 TV campaign

Morrisons has parted company with Richard Hodgson, its commercial director, after concerns were raised by Dalton Philips, chief executive, about its fresh food proposition being insufficiently communicated.

Philips told analysts that the supermarket needed to make a change in a conference call discussing the supermarket’s 2.1% drop in like-for-like sales for the quarter ending 28 October.

Martyn Jones, corporate services director at Morrisons, will assume Hodgson's responsibilities on an interim basis while the company seeks a replacement for the commercial director role, which oversees the marketing function.

Jones has been with the company for 22 years and has been handed the interim reins because of his experience gained during four years heading up the supermarket's trading function.

Morrisons will task the new commercial director with better communicating its credentials as one of the biggest fresh food manufacturers in the country.

The retailer believes its investment in fresh food specialists gives it the edge over its rival supermarkets, but is not reflected in its performance.

Philips added the roll out of its Fresh Format convenience stores is "on track" with it due to launch 100 stores by the end of its fiscal year.

He also said the company's Own Brand relaunch, will extend to 10,000 products, is "progressing well" and drew attention to the launch of its first ecommerce offer, Morrisons Cellar.

Morrisons has been losing ground on its rivals recently in terms of market share, according to research from Kantar Worldpanel. Grocery share figures for the 12 weeks ending 28 October show sales have dropped 0.4% on a like-for-like basis, resulting in its share dropping from 12.0% to 11.5%.

Edward Garner, director of Kantar Worldpanel, said: "Recent announcements about the development of online and convenience, which are the two fastest growing grocery channels, will no doubt be given added urgency as these channels continue to deliver growth for competitors."

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