The supermarket says sales from stores open for a year or more fell 1.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to 5 May compared to a 4 per cent dip in its fourth fiscal quarter.
The supermarket made sharpening its promotional activity and improving its marcomms to better communicate its points of differentiation a strategic priority in November after several quarters of declining sales and lost market share.
It launched the “More of What Matters” activity in February to try and highlight how it differs from the budget supermarkets that have been eroding its market share. DLKW Lowe created ads, starring TV presenters Ant and Dec, explained how its fish and meat is sourced in the UK and prepared in stores. Activity highlighting the provenance of its fresh food was stepped up in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
In a statement announcing the results, chief executive Dalton Philips says the “solid” start to its fiscal year was driven by “innovative” promotions that take it beyond base price cuts and success in highlighting its points of difference.
He adds: “These efforts [the marketing campaign] were further reinforced by the horsemeat scandal which helped drive increasing customer recognition of Morrisons’ unique supply chain and approach to meat sourcing. They now understand that Morrisons is best placed to sell food that is what it says it is”.
Philips says plans for a multi-channel Morrisons are “right on track” but made no further announcements about the possible tie-up with Ocado.
The supermarket confirmed last month it was in talks with the online grocer about using its technology. Morrisons has insisted, however, that the launch of the service, earmarked for 2014, is not dependent on the outcome of the talks.