City dumps Morrisons after another dip in sales


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The Independent Online

More sales woe sent supermarkets chain Morrisons’ shares crashing today as the UK’s fourth-biggest grocer continues to lag behind its big rivals.

A 1.8 per cent fall in underlying sales in the quarter to May 5 improved on a 4.1 per cent fourth-quarter slump but went down like a lead balloon in the City. The shares sank 8.2p to 288.2p, making them the worst performers in the FTSE 100 index.

The retailer said an improving performance in London, its advertising deal with TV duo Ant and Dec and avoiding the horsegate scandal helped the business.

But chief executive Dalton Philips is under pressure to arrest declining sales and profits.

The grocer remains in talks with Ocado about striking a deal to license the online grocer’s technology and operating practices but vowed to push ahead with launching food on the web on its own before the end of January if the negotiations collapse.

Morrisons has been losing sales to rivals, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, by not selling food online, while it has also been hurt by only having a fledgling convenience stores business. These are the sector’s two fastest-growing areas.

Morrisons owns three abattoirs and 17 food processing plants and Philips said the fact that traces of horsemeat were not found in any of its products has helped it to grow sales of beef.

Geordie duo Ant and Dec are advertising its fresh food credentials around ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent show.