As group commercial director Richard Hodgson was ousted this week, Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips told The Grocer a change had to be made in order to get its points of difference across to customers better, and improve the effectiveness of its promotional strategy.

Philips said the ultimate responsibility lay with himself for the retailer’s recent below-par performance, which is why he had “decided to make this change now”.

Morrisons reported Q3 like-for-like sales down 2.1% excluding fuel for the 13 weeks to 28 October and total sales down 0.4% (excl. fuel).

“I don’t believe in businesses where people carry the can but these are challenging times. We had a good run last year but recently haven’t been running at our optimum so I had to make changes,” he explained.

Veteran corporate services director Martyn Jones has been appointed interim commercial director. Jones has been tasked to focus on communicating the work it is doing in-store for 2013.

Philips admitted the traction gained by rival marketing campaigns such as Sainsbury’s Brand Match and the Asda Price Guarantee had impacted the business. “We’ve had some fantastic promotions but overall we need to be more creative,” he added.

However Philips claimed the latest quarter compared unfavourably with Q3 last year when Morrisons had the best performance of all the supermarkets, with sales up 2.4%. “We don’t have a large extension programme, and competing against 100 converted Netto stores in our heartland has impacted. But we still have the best balance sheet and return on capital investment of any of the supermarkets.”