Morrisons gets rid of controversial misty veg machines

Morrisons has scrapped its controversial in-store mist machines, which spray iced mist over fruit and vegetable, as new chairman Andrew Higginson continues to enforce a ‘back to basics’ approach.

Introduced by departing chief executive Dalton Philips, the infamous misty fruit and veg has been consistently criticised by analysts and former bosses as proof Morrisons had lost touch with its core northern customers.

First introduced in 2010, before being rolled out to 300 of the retailer’s 500 branches, the misting devices were deployed to create in-store theatre and enhance the perceived freshness and premium offer of fresh produce.

“This move is about going back to basics,” said a Morrisons spokesman. “We are using simpler refrigeration techniques and our traditional strengths in fresh food management, to ensure that our vegetables stay fresh.”

The move comes as Morrisons sees an uplift in sales after a long period of high single digit decline. Over the 12 weeks to February 1 [Kantar Worldpanel], Morrisons enjoyed its best performance in more than a year, with sales down just 0.4% – a superior performance to rivals Asda and Sainsbury’s.

Morrisons’ chairman Andrew Higginson, who was formerly finance director at Tesco and is currently running the supermarket until a replacement for Philips is found, says Morrisons will move to make its marketing activity more honest as part of its turnaround strategy.

“The big-four’s price-focused ‘we’re cheapest’ ads haven’t truly spoken to the customer but only to one another,” he said at the Advertising Association’s Lead 2015 event last month. “At Morrisons, we need to push actually listening and engaging with customer feedback over pushing endless weak promotions.”