Supermarket chain WM Morrison reported healthy sales and signalled that its investments in technology, store modernisation and re-branding have driven up sales. Despite the gloomy financial market, Morrison intends to continue investing and expanding.
Turnover rose by 12 per cent to £14.5 billion, up from £13bn for the year 2007 to 2008, Morrison reported in its preliminary results for the year ending February 1, 2009. Pre-tax profits were up from £612 million to £655m. The chain said it had seen an increase in customers and now serves 550,000 customers a week, it claims.
The company has been aggressively following an Optimisation Plan since 2007, which has included the complete transformation of its technology base onto a standardised Oracle platform. Marc Bolland, Morrison chief executive said the plan, which has included a programme to modernise its stores and branding, was now "reaping benefits" for the company. Morrison has also been modernising its supply chain and distribution network.
Despite the world economy slipping into a recession, Morrison plans to continue its investment strategy and will now seek to add over a million square feet of new store space to its business by January 2010. This will be achieved by the acquisition of some Somerfield stores from the Co-op, which acquired Somerfield last year. Sir Ian Gibson, the non-executive chairman of Morrison said the company was "investing to generate future growth".
Morrison acquired rival Safeways in 2004. Bolland joined the company from the brewing industry and began the optimisation plan, which involved Morrison investing £110m in core systems and modernisation.