Morrisons ready to defend fresh food market share against Tesco, says CEO; in 2011, Morrisons unveiled new fresh food concept in 12 locations that included 350 additional vegetable, fruit products

LOS ANGELES , March 8, 2012 () – Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc. is ready to defend its fresh food market share against fresh encroachments into the fresh food market by Tesco Plc., said Morrison Chief Executive Officer Dalton Philips, Reuters reported March 8.

In 2011, Morrison unveiled a new fresh food concept in 12 locations that included 350 additional vegetable and fruit products. The stores also devote less space to processed food, and tear down walls so that customers can see the chain’s bakers, butchers and fishmongers at work.

The revamped stores saw a more than 40% increase in delicatessen sales and a 14% increase in produce sales.

By July, Morrison will launch the new store format in 48 additional locations for a per-store cost of £1.7 million ($2.7 million).

"We're taking the fresh market experience to a whole new level and just moving it right on,” said Phillips, “We can do that because we've got these craft skills in our business, it's part of our culture.”

On March 5, Tesco detailed its intentions to open new stores and revamp hundreds of existing stores with a focus on improving its fresh produce offers. It will also emphasize its bakery, fresh meat and counter services.

For the year up to Jan. 29, Morrisons posted a before tax and one-off items profit of £935 million, up 8% from £869 million the previous year and exceeding analysts’ average forecast of £922 million.

Same-store sales at stores that had been for open for at least a year rose 1.8%, and turnover increased 7% to £17.7 billion.

Although the chain expected 2012 to be “challenging,” Morrisons expected that it would experience profitable growth during this period.

In 2012, Morrisons plans to open 15-20 new M local convenience stores, following by 50 additional locations in 2013. The move comes after a successful three-store trail in 2011.

The primary source of this article is Reuters, London, England, on March 8, 2012.

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