As expected, Morrison’s (MRW) results are fairly horrendous with the total full year dividend slashed from 13.65p to 5p, like for like sales down 2% and total turnover down by 4%. The only positive signs are that in quarter four, like for like sales rose by – wait for it – a tenth of one per cent, which is hardly going to set everybody calling their stockbroker with buy orders. But they did at least manage to turn the previous years thumping loss into a profit before tax of £257. Plus the Amazon deal, which does seem to have added some hope for the future.
David Potts the Chief Executive, proudly claims that the team now comprises a wealth of internal and external talent. What a condemnation of the previous team. How and why were they allowed to get away with it for so long and to cause such damage to the company. And what, may one ask, was the Board doing whilst the old team so mismanaged the company. Will any heads roll there, where it matters? Potts blathers on about the company having started a the journey to turn the business round but makes no mention of how long this journey will take.
In the early nineties Archie Norman saved ASDA and turned it round in a matter of months, not years. He made his presence felt within weeks. England was once a nation of shopkeepers. Ken Morrison, the founder was a shopkeeper. He knew how to sell a tin of beans as did the Lords Marks and Sieff. Now they have been replaced in Retail UK not by bean sellers but by bean counters. And one dreaded word receives not a single mention – Lidl.
Despite the Amazon deal, the management of Morrisons seems to think it is still living in a world where they have plenty of time and Tesco is the standard setter. It isn’t and they haven’t.