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Morrisons enters the Internet age

WM Morrison, the only one of the UK's 'big four' supermarkets that does not sell food from the internet, will launch a home shopping trial next year as it looks to take advantage of the £3bn market

The pilot scheme will take place in an undisclosed UK location but could be the prelude to national roll-out.

Dalton Philips, Morrisons' new chief executive, said: "Half of the population shop online and it is a market that is growing at 14pc. We have got to look at how to respond to it."

Mr Philips said that it is paramount that Morrisons' makes money from its online push, saying that loss-making websites are "a fool's game".

Morrisons will also launch three small convenience stores next year as it seeks other new avenues of growth. The chain has traditionally avoided smaller stores, and in moving into convenience retailing it will go head-to-head with formats such as Tesco Express. "I see a real opportunity in this market," said Mr Philips.

The announcements came as Morrisons unveiled its debut first-half results with the Irishman at the helm. He joined Morrisons in April from Canadian food group Loblaw. Mr Philips also pledged to improve top-line growth and increase efficiencies at the chain.

Analysts said that they were impressed by Mr Philips' energy. No doubt drawing inspiration from the touchy-feely management style of his mentor, former Asda boss Allan Leighton, Mr Philips said that Morrisons will launch four in-store research "labs" aimed at revitalising the chain.

He also unveiled "project liberate", an initiative under which 15pc of space in one store will be freed up so that new product categories can be tested. He said that he had launched an internal "space race" aimed at encouraging staff to find ways of filling this space.

"We are going to be different and we are going to be better than ever," he said.

He will unveil a full strategic review alongside the company's full-year results.

Morrisons said that pre-tax profit over the six months to August 1 was £412m, down from £449m last year, when it received an exceptional credit of £91m. Sales were up 9.1pc at £8.1bn. The interim dividend rises 14pc to 1.23p, payable on November 8

Source : James Hall -

10 September 2010
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