Morrisons hails recovery as Potts stops the rot

Morrisons CEO David Potts
Morrisons CEO David Potts

​Morrisons ​cheered investors and shoppers with the news of another increase in underlying sales ​as the supermarket continues its turnaround under chief executive David Potts.

The Bradford-based chain said like-for-like sales ​rose​ 0.7​ per cent​ in the ​13 weeks to May 1.

Th​is is the second consecutive quarter of growth at the grocer after four years of stagnation.

The company saw sales at its Food To Go division ​shoot up by​ more than 17​ per cent​ year on year, and Morrisons said its Free From range sales grew 70​ per cent​.

Mr Potts said: "We are encouraged by progress across our six priorities. There is still much to do and our colleagues are working very hard to improve the shopping trip and save customers every penny we can.

"Customers are responding and satisfaction levels remain ahead of last year. We are, of course, pleased with a second consecutive quarter of positive​ like-for-like​ sales, which demonstrates our aim to stabilise trade is taking effect."

The ​grocer's resurgence comes after Mr Potts took the helm last year, following the removal of former boss Dalton Philips, and embarked on a number of changes in a bid to turn around the firm's fortunes.

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, said: "In a patient and methodical manner, Mr Potts has worked his way through a long 'to do' list. Store standards have been improved, product on offer has been enhanced, merchandising has been developed and customer service is better.

​"​Those price cuts alongside the broader instore package are helping Morrisons to compete more effectively."

​John Ibbotson at retail consultants, Retail Vision, said: "'Morrisons Makes It' is the name of its current campaign and, based on these results, the grocer might just make it after all.

"Hats off to David Potts, he appears to have stopped the rot.

"Mr Potts' strategy of taking on the discounters with the Price Crunch initiative, and establishing Morrisons once again as a value retailer, is clearly working.

“Lower prices and the well marketed 'Morrisons Makes It' programme has stemmed the haemorrhaging of customers to Aldi, Lidl and ASDA.

"The once beleaguered grocer is finally moving in the right direction, although we should not hide from the fact that there is still a long way to go.

 "The Amazon tie-up may have offered a psychological boost and Potts' strategy may be working but the discounters are still opening stores, food deflation is entrenched and Asda remains an ominous threat."

In March, Morrisons signed a landmark deal with US online giant Amazon to supply fresh food to its customers.