Morrisons' top marketer exits as sales fall

Morrisons top marketer Richard Hodgson is to the leave after two years as the supermarket admits it needs to improve its marketing following another fall in sales.

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Hodgson, who joined as commercial director from Waitrose in June 2010, is to leave the “day-to-day business” with immediate effect. It is not known if he has job to go.

News of his departure comes as the supermarket reports sales from stores open for a year or more, excluding income from fuel, fell 2.1 per cent in the three months to 28 October. The drop follows a 0.9 per cent dip in the six months to 29 July.

In a statement, the supermarket blamed “fragile” consumer confidence and high levels of promotional activity for the fall in sales but also “recognised the ongoing importance of improving our performance, particularly in the communication of Morrisons key points of difference to our customers” as well as “improving the effectiveness of our promotional activity.”

On a conference call this morning (8 November), chief executive Dalton Philips told Marketing Week that it is to “shine a light” on the “craft skills” of staff in its butcher and bakery teams in future campaigns to set itself apart from discounters Aldi and Lidl and nearest rivals Asda and Sainsbury’s. It will also use “more creative promotional mechanics”, he adds.

The supermarket has previously committed to more targeted coupons based on shoppers’ purchases after bemoaning the “nuts” level of vouchering and coupons in the UK.

It is also expected to heavily promote its “Fresh Format” stores - which includes redesigned produce sections and counters and an expanded fresh food offer – in the coming months.

Kantar data earlier this week showed its share of the supermarket sector fell to 11.5 per cent in the three months to 28 October from 12 per cent a year earlier.

Corporate services director Martyn Jones will replace Hodgson on an interim basis in the commercial director role, which includes oversight of marketing, until a successor is found.

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