Sir; Steve Crabb’s uninformed views in the article ‘Don’t forget the people’ (The Grocer, June 18, p76) belittle the effort, skills and enthusiasm of the many people involved in bringing Morrisons and Safeway together.
Day one saw Morrisons’ directors personally address Safeway head office, store management and depot staff. They took a roadshow around the country to introduce Morrisons, meet Safeway store managers and present our plans - an activity that covered 479 stores inside a month. We also implemented a familiarisation programme for Safeway managers in Morrisons stores.
The Safeway HR team has worked with Morrisons personnel and training department throughout, helping to introduce, manage and communicate change positively.
Those based centrally at Hayes were part of the joint team that worked with USDAW, so that within just four months we had agreed together harmonised terms and conditions for all the retail staff. Many continue to work in permanent positions throughout the business and their skills and experience are highly valued.
When it comes to team building and motivation, personnel and training go hand-in-hand in our book. We gained 90,000 people and have trained more senior managers in the last 12 months than in the past nine years. More than 35,000 staff have received five days or more on-the-job training and another 25,000 have completed a 13-week retail training course in store, with more to come. A fully integrated operations structure was implemented in January this year.
The value of this huge training exercise is evident in the success of the four-a-week store conversion programme (volume is 20% higher than a year ago and customer numbers have increased more than 20%) and in our recent Grocer 33 awards for best availability and customer service.
Undertaking one of the largest retail takeovers ever and reshaping the business was never going to be easy. The task requires a tremendous amount of energy, enthusiasm and commitment.
Working together, our team has engaged, focused and motivated, showing they are more than equal to the task and I for one am enormously proud of their achievements.