Morrisons meeting shines light on empty shelves - UK
Fin24 - Jun 8th 2015, 09:03
London - One of the biggest problems facing Morrisons' new boss David Potts as he attempts to turn around Britain's fourth largest supermarket was highlighted at its annual shareholder meeting - not enough stock on store shelves.
Morrisons has suffered three years of profit decline. Like rivals Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury's, it is battling record, food price deflation and waging a price war to stem the loss of shoppers to discounters Aldi and Lidl.
However, some of its problems have been self-inflicted.
Chairman Andrew Higginson told reporters after Thursday's AGM that Morrisons' poor product availability was one of the most frustrating issues management faced.
"Aldi, Lidl, and Tesco aren't affecting our availability, we are. So that's something we can do something about," he said.
Potts, who succeeded Dalton Philips, sacked in January after failing to revive Morrisons fortunes over a five-year watch, told the meeting that customers were telling him, "You may have something on special offer but if I can't buy it, it's not that special."
"Availability will improve but it takes some quite painstaking effort," he said.
Several small investors, some of them Morrisons employees, took to the floor at the meeting to complain about the firm's chronic product availability.
"I go to stores every day and I walk round and I see empty shelves," said small shareholder and Morrisons transport worker Stuart White.
"Is that because warehouses can't pick in time or because transport can't deliver on time ... If it's sitting in a warehouse you can't buy it."
Morrisons investor and store night shift worker Keith Clegg complained of constant frustration regarding deliveries. "I'm ordering the product and they don't turn up," he said.
Others bemoaned that Morrisons' store deliveries from warehouses were hamstrung by excessive paperwork.
"Wagons are going out late, they aren't going out at all, (or) they're not going out full because there simply isn't the time to fill the wagon," said private shareholder Jane Murdoch.
Investors would need to be patient, said Potts.
"To achieve this turnaround none of it is going to be a quick or easy fix," he said. From Fin24.com
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