Rami -Sir Ken

Morrisons boss Rami Baitiéh today claimed the supermarket had made “strong progress” in its fightback after announcing like-for-like sales for the year were up by 1.8%.

The latest results, covering the 52 weeks ending 29 October 2023, have have been overshadowed by the announcement yesterday of a £2.5bn deal to sell Morrisons’ forecourt empire to petrol station giant Motor Fuel Group.

There is huge speculation over the extent to which the move will allow Morrisons to become more competitive with its supermarket and discounter rivals – or whether the money will mostly be used to pay off its huge debt pile.

However, former Carrefour boss Baitiéh, who was appointed in September, said a sixth quarter of consecutive growth boded well for its continued recovery.

Full-year total revenue, excluding fuel, was up 2.7% to £14.9bn.

Baitiéh said among the highlights of its performance was the conversion of a further 190 McColl’s stores in Q4, plus an additional 131 in Q1 this year, taking the total trading as Morrisons Daily to over 800.

The stores had seen like-for-like uplifts on conversion of 20%, with growth continuing into the second year.

Morrisons also claimed the relaunch of its loyalty card and the ramping up of exclusive price benefits for customers had been paying off.

However, there is much speculation about the potential for further moves on price and loyalty given yesterday’s announcement.

MFG and Morrisons, which are both owned by US private equity group Clayton Dubilier & Rice, yesterday confirmed after weeks of speculation that they had entered into an agreement over the forecourt sites.

The deal involves 337 Morrisons petrol forecourts, including fuel, convenience retail kiosk and ancillary services, as well as more than 400 associated sites across the UK for ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging development.

“I have been at Morrisons for only a few months, but it’s already clear that we have an abundance of talented colleagues, well located shops, high-class food making operations and a real point of difference with our Market Street butchers, fishmongers, bakers, cheesemongers and deli counters,” said Baitiéh.

“We’re competitive online, our convenience and wholesale operations are growing fast and I have seen the affection and goodwill that our customers, supplier partners and farmers have for Morrisons.

“Reporting today our sixth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales improvement is very positive. But there is so much more we can do, and together with my colleagues, we are developing plans to reinvigorate, refresh and strengthen Morrisons and to start a new chapter – which begins with our customers. Across the business we are listening hard to what our customers are telling us and taking action, and we are just beginning to see our customer satisfaction scores improve. This will be the bedrock of our next chapter.

“I would like to thank our exceptional colleagues for their hard work throughout the year and especially over the critical Christmas period. I’m confident that Morrisons has the people, the talent, the assets and the desire to chart a bright future in UK grocery by giving customers more and more reasons to shop at Morrisons.”

Morrisons CFO Jo Goff added: “This has been a year of steady progress as we continued to invest in price, customer service, loyalty and made further improvements in our own brand range and in quality.

“We’ve made good progress on our working capital improvement process with a further £100m in Q4, taking the total for the year to £300m, more than half the £500m multi-year target and ahead of our expectations.”