Morrison Escalates U.K. Grocery Battle With New Price Reductions

Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc (MRW) stepped up the battle against discounters and its larger U.K. supermarket competitors by cutting prices on 1,200 products from fruit scones to baby wipes.

Prices on the items will be reduced by an average of 17 percent starting today, the Bradford, England-based grocer said in a statement, the second round of cuts since Morrison said on March 13 that the strategy will cause profit to plunge.

“This is a defensive and an offensive play,” Morrison Chief Executive Officer Dalton Philips said at an embargoed briefing yesterday. While the grocer may not be able to match discounters Aldi and Lidl on every item, “our competitive pricing, the quality of the fresh food we make ourselves and the level of service will be a compelling proposition.”

Aldi and Lidl, both based in Germany, are increasing their share of U.K. supermarket spending as their low prices and improving product quality win favor with shoppers. Morrison’s biggest domestic competitors Tesco Plc (TSCO) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)’s Asda have responded by reducing prices.

Morrison’s price cuts, including a 60 percent reduction in the cost of a pack of Huggies wipes to 1 pound ($1.69), mean that same-store sales “are unlikely to improve any time soon,” Philips said yesterday. “Our lower prices automatically and inevitably reduce the actual sales going through the till.”

The price cuts will be supported from today by a television advertising campaign under the strapline “I’m Your New Cheaper Morrisons,” according to the company.

Philips also said he expects Morrison’s new online business and the embryonic convenience-store unit to contribute 500 million pounds to annual sales by the end of the year. The retailer had annual revenue of 17.7 billion pounds last year.

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

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

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.