Morrisons is considering creating in-store availability ‘champions’ in order to improve service levels and ensure more well-stocked shelves.

The move, which is understood to be at a very early stage, could see up to 400 staff hours per store a week dedicated exclusively to gap scans, code checking, ordering shortfalls and stock counts. It is understood these would come from existing staff hours.

The retailer is currently in the early stages of an in-store management restructure, which is expected to result in 2,600 redundancies. Staff on Morrisons employee forums have consistently blamed poor availability on insufficient numbers of staff.

G33 Availability
 Asda  94.7  3
 Morrisons  93.6  4
 Sainsbury’s  94.7  3
 Tesco  92.8  3
 Waitrose  94.9  5

Morrisons is second-lowest on The Grocer 33 availability ranking this year, even though it has delivered four full baskets in 12 shops so far - second only to Waitrose. However, its total average availability is just 93.6% - with only Tesco, which is bottom of the pile at 92.8%, scoring less.

This week, Morrisons’ store in Gosport had, along with Sainsbury’s, the poorest availability, with two out-of-stock products from the 33 items on the G33 list.

Last week, the G33 mystery shopper at Morrisons Norwich reported “a number of empty shelves.” She also said “produce looked of poor quality and no staff members were available to check for products not on shelves.”

Morrisons declined to comment on the availability champions. 

This week, the retailer reported underlying pre-tax profits down 51% to £181m in the six months to 3 August on the back of its price-cutting strategy. Like-for-likes fell 7.4%.