More of what matters
|Public limited company|
|Traded as||LSE: MRW|
|Founded||(1899), Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England|
|Headquarters||Bradford, West Yorkshire,
Number of locations
|618 (including 103 Morrisons M local stores) |
|Sir Ken Morrison (President)
Andrew Higginson (Chairman)
Dalton Philips (Outgoing CEO)
David Potts (CEO, effective 16 March 2015)
|Revenue||£17.680 billion (2014)|
|£(95) million (2014)|
|£(238) million (2014)|
|Owner||Morrison family (10%)
Threadneedle Asset Management (5%)
Schroder Investment (5%)
First Eagle LLC (5%)
Silchester Investors (5%)
Investors Asset Management (5%)
Brandes Investment (5%)
Other Minor Shareholders (60%) 
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Wm Morrison Supermarket Stores Ltd. (Supermarkets)
Safeway Ltd. and in turn Safeway Stores Ltd. (Supermarkets)
Wm Morrison Convenience Stores Ltd. (Convenience stores)
Wm Morrison Online Ltd. (Online groceries)
Neerock Ltd. (Fresh meat processing)
Farmers Boy Ltd. (Fresh food processing)
Wm Morrison Produce Ltd. (Produce packing)
Optimisation Developments Ltd (Property development)
MHE JV Co (Online groceries fulfilment centre)
Morrisons is the fourth largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, headquartered in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The company's legal name is Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc. Morrisons' market share as of May 2014 was 11.0%, making it the smallest of the "Big Four" supermarkets, behind Tesco (28.7%), Asda (17.3%) Sainsbury's (16.6%) but ahead of the fifth place The Co-operative Food (6.1%).
Founded in 1899 by William Morrison, hence the abbreviation Wm Morrison, it began as an egg and butter stall in Rawson Market, Bradford, England. Until 2004, Morrisons store locations were primarily focused in the north of England, but with the takeover of Safeway in that year, the company's presence increased significantly in the south of England and Scotland. As of May 2014 the company now has 515 superstores and 113 Morrisons M local stores spread across England, Wales and Scotland.
The Morrison family currently owns around 10% of the company.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Founding
- 1.2 Publicly traded company
- 1.3 Acquisition of Safeway
- 1.4 Optimisation Plan
- 1.5 Retirement of Sir Ken Morrison
- 1.6 Purchase of Co-op and Somerfield stores
- 1.7 Multi-channel diversification
- 1.8 Potential private equity takeover bid
- 1.9 Public criticism by the Morrison family
- 1.10 Morrisons restructuring plans
- 1.11 Change of leadership again
- 2 Financial performance
- 3 Current operations
- 4 Former operations
- 5 Marketing and branding
- 6 Product ranges
- 7 Distribution
- 8 Criticism
- 9 In popular culture
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The company was founded by William Morrison in 1899 who started the business as an egg and butter merchant in Rawson Market, Bradford, England, operating under the name of Wm Morrison Limited.
His son Ken Morrison took over the company in 1952, aged 21. In 1958, Morrisons opened a small shop in the city centre. It was the first self-service store in Bradford, the first store to have prices on its products, and it had three checkouts. The company opened its first supermarket, "Victoria", in the Girlington district of Bradford in 1961.
Publicly traded company
Acquisition of Safeway
In March 2004 Morrisons, acquired Safeway, a British supermarket chain which owned 479 stores, allowing Morrisons to have a larger presence in southern England. The company was purchased for £3.3 billion, comprising 1 new Morrisons share (enabling Safeway shareholders to have a 40% stake in the enlarged group and reducing the Morrison family's shareholding to 18%), plus 60 pence in cash (paid for by the divestment of 52 overlapping stores) for each Safeway share held. The acquisition quickly ran into difficulties caused in part by the outgoing management of Safeway changing their accounting systems just six weeks before the transaction was completed. The result was a series of profit warnings being issued by Morrisons, poor financial results and a reversion to manual systems.
The programme of store conversions from Safeway to Morrisons was the largest of its kind in British retail history, focusing initially on the retained stores which were freehold, over 25,000 sq ft (2,300 m2) with separate car parks. Within a few weeks, Safeway carrier bags were replaced by those of Morrisons and Morrisons own-brand products began to appear in Safeway stores.
Originally 52 shops were to be compulsorily divested after the takeover, but this was reduced to 50 after one Safeway store in Sunderland was destroyed by fire and the lease ended on another in Leeds city centre. John Lewis Partnership purchased 19 to be part of its Waitrose chain, while J Sainsbury plc purchased a further 14, and Tesco bought 10 in October 2004. At the time Morrisons chose not to move into the convenience store sector (although it has since done so with its M Local stores). Further to this policy decision, it was announced in late 2004 that the 114 smaller 'Safeway Compact' stores would be sold off to rival supermarket chain Somerfield in a two-part deal worth £260.2 million in total.
One of the largest single purchases in 2005 was that of five stores by Waitrose. On 18 July 2006, a further six stores from the 'Rump' format were sold to Waitrose, including the former Safeway store in Hexham, Northumberland, which became the most northerly Waitrose branch in England.
In May 2005, Morrisons announced the termination of Safeway's joint venture convenience store/petrol station format with BP. Under the deal, the premises had been split 50/50 between the two companies.
Morrisons also sold Safeway's Channel Islands stores, in Guernsey and Jersey, to CI Traders where they continued to trade under the Safeway brand name, despite selling products from chains such as Iceland. In 2011, Sandpiper CI/CI Traders sold the Channel Island Safeway stores to Waitrose and the Safeway brand disappeared from the Channel Islands. On the Isle of Man, the Douglas store was sold to Shoprite and the Ramsey store was sold to The Co-operative Food. The Gibraltar store was originally marketed for sale, but has now been converted under the 'Rump' format. In November 2006, plans were submitted for the extension and redevelopment of the store in order to introduce the full Morrisons format.
In September 2005 the company announced the closure of former Safeway depots in Kent, Bristol and Warrington with the loss of 2,500 jobs. The Kent depot has since been sold to upmarket rival Waitrose, whilst Warrington was sold to frozen food rival Iceland. Part of the Bristol depot has been sold off to Gist. The store conversion process was completed on 24 November 2005 when the Safeway fascia disappeared from the UK.
Following the acquisition of Safeway, Morrisons encountered a number of difficulties. The company had issued five profits warnings since the acquisition, and it was felt that the original Morrisons northern format did not work as well in some of the former Safeway stores in the south. To reinvigorate its new national image, Morrisons appointed the Dutchman Marc Bolland (the Chief Operating Officer of Heineken), as its new Chief Executive.
Retirement of Sir Ken Morrison
Purchase of Co-op and Somerfield stores
When the Co-operative Group completed its takeover of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, it was required to sell a number of stores by the Competition Commission. Morrisons purchased 35 stores from the combined group, mostly trading under the Somerfield fascia. These new stores were the first of more than 100 identified by Morrisons for expansion into smaller supermarkets as it aims to have a store within 15 minutes of every UK home.
In 2010, Morrisons signed a deal with budget retailer Peacocks, the first concession store opened as part of a refurbishment at the retailer's store in Idle, Bradford. The Peacocks section was rolled out into other stores before launching its own childrenswear brand 'Nutmeg' into 85 stores on 21 March 2013. Speculation is that Morrisons is investigating a launch into adult clothing during 2014.
Throughout December 2012 the supermarket chain saw a 2.5% decline in sales. This led the supermarket chain to label their financial performance for the Christmas period 2012 as being a disappointing one, although the supermarket still claimed that they were on track to meet their targets.
Potential private equity takeover bid
In February 2014, it emerged that younger members of the founding Morrison family, who own 10% of the company and who are thought to include two of Honorary President Sir Ken Morrison's children, William Morrison Junior and Andrea Shelley, along with Sir Ken Morrison's niece and her husband, Susan and Nigel Pritchard, had approached a number of private equity firms about taking the company private. They were said to be extremely unhappy about the company's disastrous financial performance, and the corporate strategy being undertaken by Dalton Philips.
Public criticism by the Morrison family
Following a new three-year corporate strategy revealed in March 2014 aimed at recovering sales and market share, at Morrisons Annual General Meeting in June 2014, Morrisons former chairman Sir Ken Morrison blasted Dalton Philips and his new board of directors for destroying the company he inherited from his father; Morrison remarked on Philips's strategy to save the failing supermarket from the pressures of Aldi and other discounter stores, stating "When I left work and started working as a hobby, I chose to raise cattle. I have something like 1,000 bullocks and, having listened to your presentation, Dalton, you've got a lot more bullshit than me."
Morrison's comments were backed up by his nephew Chris Blundell, who controls most of the remaining family stake in the supermarket, who also told the board it needed rescuing, and welcomed the decision by chairman Sir Ian Gibson to leave the business next year (in June 2015) after months of pressure.
Morrisons restructuring plans
In June 2014, Morrisons announced that there are plans put in place to cut 2,600 jobs as a result of changes to its management structure. Morrisons stated that it had trialled the new structure and believed that better performance was achieved via these methods. However, these cuts would primarily affect department manager and supervisory positions. Morrisons would create 1,000 jobs in Morrisons M local convenience stores and 3,000 in new supermarkets. Following this, Morrisons sold its distribution centre in Kent to a real estate investment company for £97.8 million. In turn, the depot in Kemsley, will be immediately leased back to the supermarket chain on a 25-year agreement with a £5.4 million rental fee per annum.
Change of leadership again
Following a 3.1% drop in like-for-like sales in the Christmas 2014 trading period, Morrisons announced on the widely expected resignation of the heavily publicly criticised Chief Executive of five years, Dalton Philips, to become effective in March 2015. In addition, the Chairman Sir Ian Gibson would stand down six months early to be replaced by former Tesco Chief Financial Officer Andrew Higginson at the end of January 2015. Five additional executives exited the company in March 2015.
Morrisons also announced the closure of ten small loss-making stores (eight former Netto UK stores and two former Somerfield stores (bought under Philips's leadership)) in Cramlington, Accrington, Ravensthorpe, Bransholme (Hull), Telford, West Bromwich, Wallasey (Seacombe - store pictured on the right), Newton le Willows, Rugby and Crawley. In addition, six unprofitable convenience stores would close, and the roll-out of the convenience store chain would be slowed, as a batch of 40 sites would no longer be bought.
The financial results have been as follows:
|52/3 weeks to||Turnover (£'m)||Profit/(loss) before tax (£'m)||Profit/(loss) after tax (£'m)|
|2 February 2014||17,680||(176.0)||(238.0)|
|3 February 2013||18,116||879.0||647.0|
|29 January 2012||17,663||947.0||690.0|
|30 January 2011||16,479||874.0||632.0|
|31 January 2010||15,410||858.0||598.0|
|1 February 2009||14,528||655.0||460.0|
|3 February 2008||12,969||612.0||554.0|
|4 February 2007||12,462||369.0||247.6|
|29 January 2006||12,115||(312.9)||(250.3)|
|30 January 2005||12,116||193.0||105.0|
|1 February 2004||4,944||319.9||197.6|
|2 February 2003||4,290||282.5||186.3|
|3 February 2002||3,915||243.0||143.7|
|4 February 2001||3,496||219.1||120.0|
|29 January 2000||2,969||189.2||103.1|
Morrisons currently has 569 superstores in the United Kingdom (February 2014), including those it retained following its purchase of Safeway plc (see below). Until 2004, Morrisons superstores were largely concentrated in the English Midlands and the North of England, but had expanded southwards, beginning with a store at Erith, Greater London, which opened in 1998.
As of February 2012 Morrisons has a 12.2% market share down 0.1% from the year before, still the smallest of the 'big four' supermarkets.
According to CACI, as of 2006, Morrisons has market dominance in 10 postcode areas; SY (Shrewsbury), LD (Llandrindod Wells), WS (Walsall), TS (Cleveland), TD (Hawick), BD (Bradford), HG (Harrogate), LS (Leeds), WF (Wakefield) and HD (Huddersfield).
Morrisons operates two stores formats: Superstores and Convenience stores.
The traditional format of Morrisons superstores is called Market Street. The meat is near or next to the butcher's counter, the delicatessen being traditionally named Provisions with cheese fridge nearby and a rottisserie counter named Oven Fresh.
The company operates a number smaller stores called "Morrisons M local" in major places such as Birmingham, Manchester Cardiff and Bristol. These stores have a similar format to small Tesco Express and Sainsbury's Local stores, but include a wider range of ready-to-eat hot food such as pastries, coffee, rotisserie, porridge and also a salad bar, items are stocked from near by superstores and shoppers can also order foods in including fresh meat and fish.
Around 70 stores were opened by the end of 2013, which was boosted by the purchase of 7 Jessops and 49 Blockbuster stores from administrators. On 26 February 2013, a further 6 HMV stores were acquired from administrators.
In addition to traditional retail supermarket stores, Morrisons has a number of other operations:
In 2012, The group launched its first retail website called "Morrisons Cellar" selling wine from around the world.
Unlike its major competitors, Morrisons has only recently branched towards offering an online shopping service. In May 2013 Morrisons announced a partnership with Ocado to use its technology systems and distribution infrastructure to help launch its own online service.
In 2011, Morrisons bought children's retailer Kiddicare for £70m to give it the knowledge to sell clothing and homewares online. In 2012 10 former Best Buy stores from the Carphone Warehouse were acquired to expand Kiddicare into retail stores. In March 2014 Morrisons CEO Dalton Phillips announced the company's intention of selling Kiddicare. The company was sold to the Endless private equity firm for £2 million in July 2014, only to be sold on to Worldstores two months later (in September 2014) for an undisclosed sum.
Morrisons purchased a 10% stake in New York based online grocer FreshDirect. After having sent a team to New York to learn from the business ahead of the predicted launch in 2013, Morrisons now has a fleet of home delivery vehicles and began a home delivery initiative in January 2014. In March 2014 Morrisons CEO Dalton Phillips has announced they have sold their 10% stake in FreshDirect due to financial difficulties the company is facing and that they have set up their own online site so they no longer need FreshDirect.
Marketing and branding
Logos and slogans
On 15 March 2007, Morrisons announced that it would ditch its existing branding and strapline in favour of a more modern brand image. Their lower price option brand, Bettabuy, was also changed to a more modern brand called the Morrisons Value range.
The change saw the replacement of the old yellow and black logo, along with the "More reasons to shop at Morrisons" strap line, replaced with "Fresh choice for you". In 2010 this was replaced by "Eat Fresh. Pay less." This was later changed again in 2013 to "More of what matters". It also involved the replacement of external signage, with the previous Morrisons signs being retained alongside the new logo, as well as changes to product packaging, point of sale, advertising, staff uniforms (replacing the old blue ties and bows with green ones) and distribution vehicles. The rationale behind the decision was the need for Morrisons to attract a wider national customer base, capitalising on its expanded geographical spread following the acquisition of Safeway.
The Morrisons Match & More card price matches their customer’s comparable grocery shop with Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda. If Morrisons customers spend £15 or more and could have paid less for their comparable groceries, Morrisons automatically give them the difference in points on their card at the checkout. Both in store and online. 1p difference = 10 Match points. £1 difference = 1,000 Match points. Morrisons price match across the store – on brands and all comparable own label products and fresh food, even those that are on promotion elsewhere. They do all the calculating for their customers when they get to the checkout and add the points to their card automatically. Morrisons customers will also get more points on 100s of products in store and online. Customers can collect points every time they fill up with fuel at a Morrisons petrol station. Once customers have collected 5,000 Match & More points, Morrisons gives them a £5 voucher to spend or save.
Morrisons stocks thousands of lines which are sold as their "Own Brand" goods. These include:
- M Savers: An economy brand which sells items ranging from food and drink to toiletries, currently the UK's fastest growing grocery brand. This replaced 'Value' which in turn was a replacement for 'Bettabuy'.
- M Kitchen: The fresh foods range comprising sauces, soups, ready meals and desserts to cater for many different types of customer. The 'M Kitchen' range was created by Morrisons' team of in-house chefs as well as some well-known chefs such as Aldo Zilli. Includes sub-brands 'Fresh Ideas', 'Bistro' the counterpart to M Signature elsewhere in the store, 'Takeaway', 'Vegetarian' and 'Sharing'.
In 2005 Morrisons purchased part of the collapsed Rathbones Bakeries operation, which makes Rathbones and Morrisons bread, for £15.5 million.
In 2007, Morrisons opened a new Distribution Centre in Swindon and announced that it had bought a new site on Junction 23 of the M5 in Bridgwater in Somerset, for redevelopment as a fresh produce packing facility.
Alcohol sales controversy
Since 2007, Morrisons has received some negative publicity over alcohol sales and the implementation of its policy that anyone who appears to be 25 or under and is purchasing alcohol must prove that they are above the legal drinking age. First, the BBC reported in September 2007 that a Morrisons store in West Kirby, Wirral, had refused to sell two bottles of wine to a 72-year-old man because he refused to confirm that he was over 18. Morrisons refused to admit that a mistake had been made, explaining through a spokesman that to "limit any element of doubt staff at the West Kirby store are required to ask anyone buying alcohol to confirm that they are over 18." Next, in September 2009 a Morrisons in Knottingley, West Yorkshire, was caught in a police sting and the company was fined for selling alcohol to a 15-year-old girl.
Two weeks later, The Guardian published an article on Jackie Slater, a woman in her 50s who had been refused a sale of a bottle of wine while shopping with her 17-year-old daughter. Again Morrisons stood by the store's action, explaining through a spokesman that "stores are unable to sell an alcoholic product to a customer they believe could be buying for a minor or for someone who is unable to prove their age."
The checkout assistant involved in the incident told The Guardian that she would have been allowed to buy the wine had she been shopping with younger children. This prompted Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland to comment that "Morrisons should be ashamed of themselves" and that "Whoever thinks this policy will do anything to stop antisocial drinking by kids is in cloud-cuckoo-land."
In December 2012 a television advertising campaign which showed a child giving a dog pieces of Christmas pudding was criticised by the British Veterinary Association and the Kennel Club. Christmas pudding contains ingredients which can be harmful to dogs which led to concern that the behaviour in the clip could be copied with detrimental consequences for animals. A spokesman for Morrisons stated that they had sought veterinary advice before filming and a vet was present during the shoot. Advice given was that "...there would be minimal, if any, risk to a dog of serious toxic reaction should a small amount, in relation to its body weight, of Christmas cake or pudding be consumed on a one-off basis.”
Help for Heroes
In May 2013, a Morrisons worker at the store in Victory Retail Park, Portsmouth was suspended for wearing a Help for Heroes wristband and a remembrance poppy. The member of staff faced disciplinary action over "breaching the company's uniform policy". Morrisons later reinstated the worker and updated its policy. 
Angel of the North
In May 2014, Morrisons projected an image of a baguette onto the Angel of the North. The sculpture's designer, Antony Gormley, said, "I'd rather the Angel is not used for such purposes". Morrisons later apologised.
Slavery in Thailand
In 2014, The Guardian reported that Morrisons is a client of Charoen Pokphand Foods. During 6 months, The Guardian traced down the whole chain from slave ships in Asian waters to leading producers and retailers. 
In popular culture
- In Charlie Higson's post-apocalyptic young adult horror novel The Enemy (2009), a group of children finds refuge in Morrisons supermarket in London, after a worldwide sickness has infected adults turning them into something akin to zombies. They later join forces with a rival group of children who had found refuge in Waitrose.
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- Hodal, Kate; Kelly, Chris; Lawrence, Felicity (10 June 2014). "Revealed: Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves. ... CP Foods admits that slave labour is part of its supply chain.
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