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Thought leadership

The new chief executive of the Morrisons supermarket chain has asked staff and customers to tell him what they love and hate about the grocer as a first step towards engineering a hoped-for turnaround at the supermarket chain.

David Potts, a former Tesco executive, spent his first day at Morrisons this week visiting one of its manufacturing plants and a store, as well as joining the regular head office meeting where staff assess the previous week’s trading.

This follows on from Morrison's beating Waitrose, Lidl, Aldi,Tesco, Sainsbury's and ASDA to the punch in Engage Customers's Are Your Customers Being Served? report, launching at our Retail Forum on 26th March, judging the service delivery of the retailers from the customers perspective – a report picked up yesterday by media including the Huffington Post.

In separate videos recorded for staff and customers, Potts said: “My goal will be to listen as hard as possible to as many customers and staff as I can. I want to hear what they love about Morrisons, what they’d like to see more of and what they’d like to see less of.”

The video for customers was posted on Morrisons’ Facebook page on Tuesday with a link so that shoppers can contact the company to make clear their views. By lunchtime it had already been viewed by more than 6,500 people and gathered more than 60 comments from staff and shoppers. Responses to the video range from till staff complaining about having to clean store toilets to a suggestion to heed the word of the chain’s former boss Sir Ken Morrison and praise for its online service launched last year.

As part of his introduction to Morrisons, Potts also intends to spend time working in a store over Easter.

He arrived at the company’s Bradford headquarters just a few days after the chairman Andy Higginson revealed the company had made a loss of nearly £800m last year. Once considered a serious contender for the top job at Tesco, Potts is expected to focus initially on improving standards at Morrisons stores.

The new boss started work in a supermarket aged 16 and rose to the Tesco boardroom before leaving in 2011. Higginson was a fellow director of Tesco at the same time and the duo are hoping to revive Morrisons’ fortunes in the face of a rapidly changing market.

All the major supermarkets are under pressure from the rise of discounters Aldi and Lidl. At the same time, shoppers are buying more from convenience outlets and online, and sticking to a tight budget on food spending.

Dave Lewis, the new boss of Tesco, has already given his shareholders reasons for some optimism, with the beginnings of a sales revival delivered through carefully targeted price cuts, better availability and improved customer service.

Higginson believes Morrisons’ colourful “market street” concept – with trained butchers, bakers and fishmongers – is one way the chain can set itself apart from Aldi, Lidl and its bigger supermarket rivals.

He also said the company could use its vertically integrated manufacturing set-up – it has its own slaughterhouses and fruit packing plants – as “a weapon” in providing cheaper, fresher produce to shoppers.

 

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