William Morrison Supermarkets Plc (MRW), the smallest of the four main U.K. supermarkets, said a sales decline worsened in the third quarter, driven by fragile consumer confidence and high levels of promotions at rival chains.
Sales at stores open at least a year fell 2.1 percent, excluding gasoline and value-added tax, the Bradford, England- based grocer said today in a statement. That compares with the median analyst estimate of a 2 percent drop. Sales fell 0.9 percent in the first half on that basis.
Morrison’s market share fell to 11.5 percent in the 12 weeks ended Oct. 28 as sales slipped into negative territory behind the market’s growth of 2.4 percent, researcher Kantar Worldpanel said this week. To combat underperforming sales, Chief Executive Officer Dalton Philips has been revamping fresh- food formats with flower ranges and hot-food counters, while also ramping up discount vouchers like money-off at the cash register and pushing into convenience outlets.
“We expect the market to remain challenging for the remainder of the year,” the company said in the statement. ’’We anticipate that our full-year financial performance will be broadly in line with our expectations.’’
Morrison was little changed at 267.5 pence in London trading yesterday. The stock has fallen 18 percent this year.
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