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Morrison Market Share Falls to Lowest in Five Years, Kantar Says

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- William Morrison Supermarkets Plc’s share of the U.K. grocery market dropped to a five-year low this month, indicating that a lack of convenience stores and an online offering continue to weigh on business.

The retailer’s market share fell to 11.1 percent in the 12 weeks ended Sept. 16 from 11.4 percent a year earlier, according to researcher Kantar Worldpanel. That’s the lowest since the 12 weeks ended Sept. 7, 2008, when the share was 11 percent.

Morrison misses 2 percentage points of sales growth by not having an online presence or convenience stores, the two fastest growing areas of the market, Chief Executive Officer Dalton Philips said Sept. 12. The grocer plans to start an Internet grocery service in January and to have 100 convenience stores by the end of this year, which it will seek to double in 2014.

“Strong performances by retailers at both ends of the market pose a significant challenge for the big four supermarkets,” Kantar Worldpanel said in the statement. A polarization by shoppers toward discounters such as Aldi and Lidl and the upscale Waitrose chain “is forcing the major supermarkets to compete for an ever-smaller middle ground.”

Morrison’s sales rose 1.6 percent in the 12-week period, down from 1.8 percent growth reported last month, Kantar said.

J Sainsbury Plc was the only one of the U.K.’s big four grocers to gain market share from a year ago, with an increase to 16.6 percent from 16.4 percent. Tesco Plc, Britain’s largest retailer, saw its share weaken to 30.2 percent from 30.9 percent, while the share of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda dropped to 17.3 percent from 17.6 percent, Kantar World Panel said.

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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