locks return: trolley locks back at five stores
Fewer than four months after removing the locks from 150,000 supermarket trolleys, Morrisons has had to put the chains back on at five of its stores.
The retailer announced the plan to remove the locks in July as part of its wider drive to improve ease of shopping for its customers.
However, at the time it said it would keep the locks in certain locations where trolleys were at high risk of being removed from the premises, such as inner city stores, or where the local geography would result in trolleys running away of their own accord.
Morrisons said removing locks had been a success overall but admitted it had not worked in all stores. “Our nationwide removal has been overwhelmingly positive,” said a spokesman. “However, we promised to reinstate trolley locks at stores where it did not work, which actually resulted in just five out of 279 stores UK-wide having had their locks put back on.”
One poster on Morrisons’ staff forum said about 70 trolleys had gone missing from one store, with staff being asked to go out looking for them.
Morrisons is continuing to experiment with store formats as its looks to arrest its declining sales by tailoring its offer based on store locations.
The retailer this week announced plans to develop three new ‘Format Flex’ lab stores over the next few months with differing propositions, ranges, store designs and environments.
The three stores undergoing the makeovers are in Milton Keynes, Birtley in Gateshead, and Weybridge, Surrey. The Milton Keynes store is set to have additional elements incorporated into the design to appeal to the high number of young families in the area, such as more parent and toddler parking spaces, wider aisles, improved baby changing facilities and a new café format that features a children’s area.
The Birtley store will have a focus on value, while Weybridge will feature a wider fresh range.
At each store, the serve-over counter size and type will be “flexed,” with more space in the centre of the store dedicated to categories that over-index with local customers. More space is also being given to the retailer’s Nutmeg children’s clothing range.
Some of the changes being trialled would only be relevant to a handful of stores, while others could be applied to a larger number across the estate, the retailer said.
Morrisons added the new formats would also build on the ‘ease of shop’ work already implemented across its stores, which has seen trolley locks removed (see box), shop floors de-cluttered, investment in baby changing facilities, removal of parking charges and longer opening hours.
“Our customers want their local store to be relevant to them and their family,” said Morrisons director of format & space Andy Newton. “The ability to dial up or dial down certain aspects of stores is crucial.”
The supermarket’s previous lab store project, M Discount in Preston, has now ended. Morrisons used the store to experiment with new products, layouts, merchandising, pricing, technology and branding. It is expected to close next month for refurbishment work to bring it back in line with the rest of the retailer’s estate.