Hyperbole is without a doubt the worst crime any retail chief can commit. Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration.

Dalton Philips avoided too many verbal fireworks when he said Morrisons was “a nose ahead of the market” after reporting a solid, if unspectacular, 1% rise in like-for-likes for the Christmas period.

But he was more effusive in his praise for Belinda Youngs, Morrisons’ new own-brand director. Philips issued the sort of confidence-boosting testimonial you’d expect from Harry Redknapp after some transfer-window wheeling and dealing.

“A top, top player. Frightening ability. ‘Triffic talent.” That’s not exactly what Philips said about Youngs, but he did call her “arguably the best private-brands person in the world today”.

Youngs will take over responsibility for the much-needed overhaul of Morrisons’ own-label roster, which has yet to be sorted out following the Safeway acquisition. Morrisons, of course, is still playing catch-up in that regard, with Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all having unveiled major changes in the past few months.

We’ll see soon enough how accurate Philips’ assessment of the Christmas figures turns out to be, with Sainsbury, Tesco and M&S all reporting this week. As for his tip on Youngs, we’ll have to wait a bit longer.

Talking of predictions, Ocado today said it had done “exactly what it said on the tin” with the sales delivered since its IPO. That marked the first time this column had heard a top retail executive deliver a trading update based on a creosote ad; allusions to painting a fence make a change from the usual metaphorical sitting on it.

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