We all know the past looks rosier the further you get from it.
Sir Ken Morrison last week used the AGM of the supermarket he founded to cast an admiring eye back to the good old days when Morrisons didn’t concern itself with fads like convenience retailing and the internet.
He warned his successors at the Morrisons helm that they had lost sight of what the supermarket’s shoppers wanted and risked repeating the mistakes of the Safeway deal.
PRs from Morrisons were quick to point out that Sir Ken was reading from a list of criticisms he wrote in 2009, via a strongly worded letter to the previous regime, led by Marc Bolland. (That’s not the only time he’s had a pop at Bolland, of course, whom he said was “patently not a retailer” in the wake of the former Heineken man’s defection to Marks & Spencer.)
While Sir Ken obviously felt his observations still had some relevance, a more effective rebuttal might be to point out that Morrisons’ Store of the Future format places the emphasis firmly on value and freshness, rather than any (probably doomed) move upmarket.
Whether Sir Ken would be so dismissive of Morrisons’ eye-catching move for Costcutter, as revealed by The Grocer over the weekend, is less clear.
The tie-up represents a potentially transformational deal that would hand Morrisons a ready-made supply chain for its fledgling push into convenience, removing the single greatest obstacle to M Local challenging Tesco and Sainsbury’s - and building on the momentum that earned Morrisons our title of Grocer of the Year at last week’s Gold Awards.
If this deal happens, it’s hard to imagine Sir Ken trotting out the same old complaints again in another few years’ time.