Morrisons boss: ‘We have neutralised rivals on price’

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips has made the bold claim that it has neutralised its rivals on price and will now focus on its points of difference.

morrisons-lowprices-2014

Speaking to Marketing Week on a call this morning (6 November) following its quarterly results announcement, Philips said while price will remain the number one priority and will continue to take prices down to ensure it has a strong price proposition, it will look to push its points of differentiation. It has been introducing new signage and point-of-sale to communicate the difference it offers with in-store bakers and butchers.

“We have neutralised on price against the discounters and anyone else and now we have got the butchers, bakers, fishmongers doing all those products that no one else can so. Our strategic position is at a place to be to win,” he said.

Morrisons also introduced its Match & More loyalty scheme at the beginning of December, with Dalton saying it has gone “extremely well”. So far more than 1 million people have signed up to the scheme and early feedback found that customers are really enjoying the scheme and that it is giving them confidence in Morrisons’ pricing, he said.

Dalton also admitted that the retailer went too early with Christmas last year when it launched its “Big Christmas Bonus” scheme in early October. This year, it only introduced the programme at the start of November, with Dalton saying November is a “better period” to start its Christmas promotional programme.

The scheme offers customers a bonus £25 coupon when they spend £40 in store every week for six consecutive weeks.

“Really the build-up for food starts now. Over Christmas we want a very simple programme for customers and an easy mechanic to understand that will be supplemented by strong deals. Our 2 tins of chocolates for £7 is a spunker of a deal,” he told Marketing Week.

However he did admit that the decision to move its Christmas marketing later to focus on Match & More in October has had an impact on sales. They fell 6.3% on a like-for-like basis in the quarter to 2 November, a slight improvement on the 7.4% drop in the first half.

The campaign this year will focus on making it easier for customers to spend in store, offering longer opening hours, significantly better pricing, the Christmas bonus card and Match & More.

“The combination of those factors should give customers the confidence that they don’t need to split their spend. They can come to us and get the best price and if they don’t we give them the money,” said Philips.

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