Morrison Extends Same-Store Sales Decline as Discounters Gain

William Morrison Supermarkets Plc (MRW), the smallest of the U.K.’s four main grocery chains, reported its seventh straight quarter of declining same-store sales after losing more ground to discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.

Sales at stores open a year or more fell 2.4 percent in the 13 weeks ended Nov. 3, the Bradford, England-based company said in a statement today. That’s worse than the median of eight estimates in a Bloomberg News survey for a 1.6 percent drop.

Morrison’s share of the grocery market is being eroded by competition from both Aldi and Lidl, which are stepping up expansion in the U.K. to gain price-conscious shoppers. The retailer has also been hindered by the growth of online and convenience retailing, where it is seeking to gain a presence.

The retailer blamed the worst same-store sales performance in almost a year on heavy promotions across the industry in addition to its lack of an online offering and fewer convenience stores than competitors.

“We expect the market to remain challenging for the remainder of the year and continue to manage the business tightly,” the company said in the statement. “Our performance in the third quarter was in line with our expectations and accordingly our financial outlook for the full-year remains unchanged.”

Morrison plans to have 100 convenience stores by the end of the year, a much smaller estate than Tesco Plc (TSCO), which operates about 1,500 small stores, and J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY), which has more than 500. The retailer plans to start an online service in January with the help of Internet-only grocer Ocado Plc.

Morrison’s market share fell to 11.2 percent in the 12 weeks ended Oct. 13 from 11.8 percent a year earlier, Kantar Worldpanel said Oct. 22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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