MORRISONS yesterday unveiled plans to drag the struggling supermarket chain into the 21st century as its chief executive admitted it was losing £500 million a year in sales to online rivals and still using pen-and-paper methods to check stock.
Dalton Philips admitted that Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer had been years behind its rivals Tesco and Sainsbury’s but insisted the business was now “fit for the future” after a £300m infrastructure revamp and plans for the launch of its online operations following a deal to share technology with web retailer Ocado.
The Bradford-based retailer is also pushing ahead with expansion plans which include a greater presence in London where it currently has only a 6.5 per cent market share.
Its new M Local convenience stores are set to number 100 by the end of the year, rising to a possible 300 in three years time, many of them opening in sites previously occupied by failed high street names such as HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster.
Philips said the group would be a “true national, multi-channel and multi-format retailer” by 2015. He said the partnership with Ocado would give the supermarket immediate access to online technology and deliver profits in four years - an outcome which rivals had taken a decade to achieve when developing their own technology.
He admitted that Morrisons was the only retailer of its size in the world still using pen and paper for stock checking, which will not be completely phased out until January next year when all stores will be using tablet computers.