Morrisons has created a specialist own-brand sourcing team to improve its own-label buying.
The move is part of a wider shake-up of its trading division being conducted by group trading director Casper Meijer, who joined from Dutch retailer Albert Heijn at the beginning of the year.
Morrisons said the team would work strategically with own-label suppliers, enabling it to buy more effectively. Existing category teams will continue to be responsible for buying branded goods and managing relationships with brand suppliers.
Taking away the own-label buying function from these teams would allow them to focus on ranging, pricing and promotions.
The own-brand sourcing team will start with the dairy, core grocery, frozen and impulse categories before being rolled out more widely. Meijer has experience of similar systems from his time in the Netherlands.
“This is a model that I have seen work very effectively and will help us work with existing suppliers more effectively,” he said. “It also creates an opportunity for this specialised team to look more closely at new suppliers and innovation.”
The retailer said the new move would also help suppliers by reducing the number of Morrisons people they have to deal with.
Morrisons will also continue to be a member of international buying alliance AMS. The group is made up of 15 European retailers and wholesalers including Ahold and Delhaize, as well as Booker.
Suppliers gave the move a cautious welcome. “It is a common practice at a lot of other retailers and will hopefully result in a more focused approach from Morrisons,” said one major own label supplier.
Last month, The Grocer revealed Morrisons was conducting a shake-up of its trading department. It is currently merging its trading and buying manager roles into category positions.
At the time, the retailer said the move was about simplifying its management structure and promised no redundancies would result. Morrisons confirmed this week it was related to the creation of the new own-brand team.
Morrisons is currently in the final stages of completing a two-year overhaul of its own-label range, which has seen its previous three-tier approach replaced by a wide range of sub-brands such as M Savers, M Kitchen, M Signature and the NuMe healthy eating range.
However, in the wake of the retailer’s recent poor sales performance, it is understood Morrisons’ focus is shifting to delivering stronger promotions and pricing.