Morrisons' sales are going stale


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The Independent Online

The UK's fourth-biggest grocer Morrisons has suffered its worst underlying sales for at least seven years and parted company with its commercial director.

The Bradford-based supermarket said it needed to communicate its fresh food offer in its stores better and has replaced Richard Hodgson with veteran retailer Martyn Jones in the interim.

Dalton Philips, the chief executive of Morrisons, had poached Mr Hodgson from rival Waitrose after he took the helm in March 2010.

Mr Philips said: "We have made the changes today because we need to be stronger in communicating all our points of difference."

But like-for-like sales at Morrisons tumbled by 2.1 per cent over the 13 weeks to October 28, which marks a deterioration on the previous six months and leaves it trailing the most recent figures from Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's.

Until this year, Morrisons had not suffered falling underlying sales since the autumn of 2005, when it was recovering from its troubled acquisition of Safeway in 2004. Seymour Pierce forecasts the grocer's profits will fall by 5 per cent this year to £890.3 million.