Morrisons marketing chief: online grocery retail not profitable

Supermarket Morrisons will not be moving into online sales in the short term as grocery online retail has not yet been proven as a profitable model, according to marketing director Michael Bates.

Supermarket Morrisons will not be moving into online sales in the ‘short term’ as “grocery online retail has not yet been proven as a profitable model,” according to marketing director Michael Bates.

Bates made his comment at the Marketing Week brand summit in central London today (25th February).

He had told delegates how the supermarket managed to steal market share from Tesco and Asda and save the brand from freefall after its 2006 Safeway takeover pitched the brand into new parts of the UK who viewed it as “a byword for pies”.

He added the supermarket was planning a new advertising campaign featuring celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin later this year to support expansion of its nationwide ‘Lets Grow’ initiative which works with schools to teach pupils about growing fruit and veg.

However, despite the success of the rebrand and advertising campaigns featuring celebrities such as Denise Van Outen and Richard Hammond, Bates says the supermarket wants to increase its engagement with offline customers and store staff before it expanded into online retailing.

Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s all run online grocery stores. Ocado, which has a supplier deal with Waitrose, overhauled its site a year ago and expanded into non-food and its food sales in 2007 were £340m, a tenth of the turnover of the offline Waitrose.

Bates also revealed Morrisons had built its market share from 11.1 in 2007 to 11.9% as a result of the rebrand campaign, which had sought to serve customers who want to shop with a ‘food specialist’ at affordable prices.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here