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Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc ( ) is the fourth largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The company is usually referred to and is branded as Morrisons, and it is part of the FTSE 100 Index of companies. Morrisons' market share as of December 2008 is at 11.8%, making it the smallest of the "Big Four" supermarkets, behind Tescomarker (30.9%),Asda (16.8%) and Sainsbury'smarker (16%), but far ahead of the fifth place Co-operative Group, which has a share of 4.4%.

Originally founded by William Morrison in 1899, it started out as an egg and butter stall in Rawson Market, Bradfordmarker, Englandmarker. Until 2004, Morrisons store locations were primarily focused in the north of England, but with the takeover of Safeway in that year, the company now has a total of 417 superstores across the UK.

The Morrison family currently owns around 15.5% of the company.



The Company was founded by William Morrison in 1899, initially as an egg and butter merchant in Rawson Market, Bradford, Englandmarker operating under the name of Wm Morrison (Provisions) Limited.

His son, Ken Morrison took over the company in 1952, aged 26. In 1958 it opened a small shop in the city centre. It was the first self-service store in Bradford, the first store to have prices on its products and it had three checkouts. The company opened its first supermarket "Victoria", in the Girlington district of Bradfordmarker in 1961. This came with 5,000 sq ft of selling space and car parking spaces for customers, the location only being chosen after Morrisons could not afford to build a supermarket closer to the city centre.

Morrisons also occupies the site in Idle, Bradford, where Jowett cars were once manufactured and where there is a wallfrieze denoting the origins of the site. The company also has a Jowett Bradford Van in Morrison's livery that promotes the company.

Publicly traded company

In 1967 it became a public limited company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Acquisition of Safeway

In 2004 Morrisons, which operated mainly in the North of England, acquired Safeway, a British supermarket chain which owned 479 stores, mainly in Scotland and the South of England. The acquisition quickly ran into difficulties caused in part by the outgoing management of Safeway changing their accounting systems just six weeks before the transaction was completed. The result was a series of profit warnings being issued by Morrisons, poor financial results and a need to revert to manual systems.

The programme of store conversions from Safeway to Morrisons was the largest of its kind in British retail history, focusing initially on the retained stores which were freehold, over with separate car parks. Within a few weeks, Safeway carrier bags were replaced by those of Morrisons and the new owner's own-brand products began to appear in Safeway stores.

Originally 52 stores were to be compulsorily divested after the takeover, but this was reduced to 50 after one Safeway store in Sunderlandmarker was burned down and the lease ended on another in Leedsmarker city centre. John Lewis Partnership purchased 19 to be part of its Waitrose chain, while J Sainsbury plcmarker purchased a further 14, and Tesco bought 10 in October 2004.

Unlike other operators, most notably Tesco and Sainsbury's, Morrisons had chosen not to move into the convenience store sector. Further to this policy decision, it was announced in late 2004 that the 114 smaller 'Safeway Compact' stores were to be sold off to rival supermarket chain Somerfield in a two-part deal worth £260.2 million in total.

In Northern Irelandmarker Morrisons sold Safeway's stores to ASDA. This included a store in Bangormarker which actually opened after the Morrisons takeover.
Morrisons market share decreased after its purchase of Safeway, but it eventually grew again after the store disposals and conversions.

Morrisons continued to sell and close stores not covered by the Competition Commission ruling, which it felt did not fit with the scale and layout of its Market Street format. In total, 254 stores were sold off by October 2006, which left the chain with 367 stores by November 2006. In all, 72 stores were sold that were neither part of the original Competition Commission ruling or part of the Safeway Compact portfolio.

One of the largest single purchases in 2005 was that of five stores by Waitrose. On 18 July 2006, a further six stores from the 'Rump' format were sold to Waitrose, including the former Safeway store in Hexhammarker, Northumberlandmarker, which became the most northerly Waitrose branch in England.

In May 2005, Morrisons announced the termination of Safeway's joint venture convenience store/petrol station format with BP. Under the deal, the premises were split 50/50 between the two companies. Five sites were subsequently sold on to BP, while Morrisons sold the rest of its sites to Somerfield and Tesco, which both maintain a presence in this market sector.

Morrisons also sold Safeway's Channel Islands stores, in Guernseymarker and Jerseymarker, to CI Traders. On the Isle of Manmarker, the Douglas store was sold to Shoprite and the Ramsey store was sold to the Co-op. The Gibraltarmarker store was originally marketed for sale, but has now been converted under the 'Rump' format. In November 2006, plans were submitted for the extension and redevelopment of the store in order to introduce the full Morrisons format.

In September 2005 the Company announced the closure of former Safeway depots in Kent, Bristol and Warrington with the loss of 2,500 jobs. The Kent depot has since been sold to upmarket rival Waitrose, whilst Warrington was apparently sold to frozen food rival Iceland. Part of the Bristol depot has been sold off to Gist.
The store conversion process was completed on 24 November 2005 when the Safeway fascia disappeared from the UK.

In 2007, Morrisons opened a new Distribution Centre in Swindon and announced that it had bought the Gerber Foods site in Bridgewater in Somerset, for redevelopment as a fresh produce packing facility.

Alcohol sales controversy

Since 2007, Morrisons has struggled with negative publicity over alcohol sales, as it has alternated between extremes of zeal and laxity in implementing its policy of asking anyone who appears to be 25 or under and is purchasing alcohol to prove that they are above the legal drinking age. First, the BBC reported in September 2007 that a Morrisons store in West Kirby, Wirral, had refused to sell two bottles of wine to a 72-year-old grandfather of three because he refused to confirm that he was over 21. Morrisons refused to admit that a mistake had been made, explaining through a spokesman that "To [...] limit any element of doubt staff at the West Kirby store are required to ask anyone buying alcohol to confirm that they are over 21." Next, in September 2009 a Morrisons in Knottingley, West Yorkshire, was caught in a police sting and the company was fined for selling alcohol to a 15-year-old girl. Two weeks later, The Guardian published an article on Jackie Slater, a woman in her 50s who had been refused a sale of a bottle of wine while shopping with her 17-year-old daughter. Again Morrisons stood by the store's action, explaining through a spokesman that "stores are unable to sell an alcoholic product to a customer they believe could be buying for a minor or for someone who is unable to prove their age." The checkout assistant involved in the incident, however, told The Guardian that Mrs Slater would have been allowed to buy the wine had she been shopping with younger children. This prompted Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland to comment that "Morrisons should be ashamed of themselves", and that "Whoever thinks this policy will do anything to stop antisocial drinking by kids is in cloud-cuckoo-land."

Senior management

In 2008 Sir Ken Morrison retired from the Company.

Marc Bolland is chief executive, for this role he is paid an annual salary of £804,000. He is set to leave the company in spring 2010 for a new role as CEO for M&S[25301]

Current operations

Morrisons currently has 403 superstores in the United Kingdom (as at September 2009), including those it retained following its purchase of Safeway plc (see below). Until 2004, Morrisons superstores were largely concentrated in the English Midlandsmarker and the North of England, but had expanded southwards, beginning with a store at Erithmarker, Greater Londonmarker, which opened in 1998. Most Morrisons stores operate from large superstores with a core focus on groceries and homewares, with fewer electronics, clothing and furnishings than the company's main supermarket rivals.

Morrisons supermarkets are currently split into 6 areas of the UK. Scotland (51), North (72), Midlands (75), South East (63) with one of these in Gibraltarmarker, South Central (62) and the South West (51).

According to CACI, as of 2006, Morrison's has market dominance in 10 postcode areas; SYmarker (Shrewsburymarker), LD (Llandrindod Wellsmarker), WSmarker (Walsallmarker),TSmarker (Clevelandmarker), TD (Hawickmarker), BDmarker (Bradfordmarker), HGmarker (Harrogatemarker), LSmarker (Leedsmarker), WFmarker (Wakefieldmarker) and HDmarker (Huddersfieldmarker).

Purchase of former Co-operative and Somerfield stores

When the Co-operative Group completed its takeover of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, it was required to sell a number of stores by the Competition Commission. Morrisons purchased 35 stores from the combined group, mostly trading under the Somerfield fascia. These new stores are the first of more than 100 identified by Morrisons for expansion into smaller supermarkets as it aims to have a store within 15 minutes of every UK home.

Financial performance

52/3 weeks to Turnover (£'m) Profit/(loss) before tax (£'m) Profit/(loss) after tax (£'m) Annual Report
1 February 2009 14,528 655.0 460.0 [25302]
3 February 2008 12,969 612.0 554.0 [25303]
4 February 2007 12,462 369.0 247.6 [25304]
29 January 2006 12,115 (312.9) (250.3) [25305]
30 January 2005 12,116 193.0 105.0 [25306]
1 February 2004 4,944 319.9 197.6 [25307]
2 February 2003 4,290 282.5 186.3 [25308]
3 February 2002 3,915 243.0 143.7
4 February 2001 3,496 219.1 120.0
29 January 2000 2,969 189.2 103.1

Market share

, according to TNS Worldpanel, Morrisons is the smallest of the 'Big Four' supermarkets with a market share of 11.1%. Whilst Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's saw increases in market share from July 2008, Morrison's saw a similar sized decrease of 0.2% in the same period.

Supermarket Consumer
Spend (£000s)
Market Share
August 2008
+/- from
July 2008
Tescomarker 6,351,531 31.6% 0.3%
Asda 3,410,431 17.0% 0.1%
Sainsbury'smarker 3,175,543 15.9% 0.1%
Morrisons 2,233,137 11.1% 0.2%

Marketing and branding

Morrisons logo used 1985-2007

On 15 March 2007, Morrisons announced that it will ditch its traditional branding and strapline in favour of a more modern brand image. CEO Marc Bolland announced: "Reflecting our nationwide presence and our many new customers, we will be making Morrisons the food specialist for everyone".

The change will see the replacement of the current logo and the "More reasons to shop at Morrisons" strapline, replaced with "fresh for you everyday" or "fresh choice for you" and "Food specialist for everyone". It will also involve the replacement of external signage, as well as changes to product packaging, point of sale, advertising, staff uniforms (replacing the old blue ties and bows to green ones) and distribution vehicles. The rationale behind the decision is the need for Morrisons to attract a wider national customer base, capitalising on its expanded geographical spread following the acquisition of Safeway.

On 23 July 2007, Morrisons officially launched their new look website as well as their new advertising campaign. Their first TV advertisement under the "Fresh Choice for You" slogan appeared. This showed Denise van Outen travelling all over the country, and out to sea, with a Morrisons trolley, searching for sources of the finest ingredients. She then returns to Morrisons where everything is made freshly on Market Street. The soundtrack for the advert is Take That's song Shine which is also accompanied by a voiceover by Jim Broadbent. This is the start of a series of new adverts that will feature a range of different celebrities who will each promote the store. The new advertising campaign also unveiled a change to the new slogan, which is now "Fresh Choice for You".


In 2005 Morrisons purchased part of the collapsed Rathbones Bakeries operation for £15.5 million which make Rathbones and Morrisons bread.



  • Retailer of the Year
In 2009, Morrisons was named Retail Week Retailer of the year for the second year running, becoming the first retailer to achieve this.
  • Multiple Spirits Retailer of the Year
  • The Grocer 33 Best Availability Award
  • The Grocer 33 Best Service Award
  • Store Manager of the Year


  • Retailer of the Year
  • Grocer of the Year 2008
  • Supermarket of the Year 2008
  • Store Manager of the year 2008
  • Fresh Produce Retailer of the Year 2008
  • Fresh Flower Supermarket of the Year 2008


  • Fresh Pasta Retailer of the Year
  • Frozen Pizza Retailer of the Year
  • Supermarket Greetings Card Retailer of the Year
  • Fresh Flower Retailer of the Year
  • Training Initiative of the Year
  • Store Manager of the Year
  • The Grocer Customer Service Award
  • The Grocer Best Availability Award
  • Grocer Own Label Excellence Awards
  • Seafish Quality Award for all their Fresh Fish and Seafood counters


  • Store Manager of the Year
  • Retail Product of the Year Award, Morrisons ‘Classic Walnut Dream Ice Cream’
  • Retail Week – Retailer of the Year
  • OLN Drinks Retailing Awards - Multiple Drinks Retailer


  • Fresh Pasta Retailer of the Year
  • The Grocer Gold Award for Availability


  • Fresh Pasta Retailer of the Year
  • Multiple Beer Retailer of the Year


  • Multiple Retailer of the Year, Retail Industry Awards
  • Off Licence Retailer of the Year, Retail Industry Awards
  • Multiple Retailer of the Year, Off Licence of the Year Awards
  • Pizza Retailer of the Year
  • Best Supermarket Fish Counter
  • Gold Award, ‘Winning Business’ magazine's Retail Customer
  • Service Survey – the only retailer to be awarded ‘Gold’
  • Best Large Retailer, Disability Customer Service Awards


  • Fresh Produce Retailer of the Year
  • Off Licence Retailer of the Year

See also


  1. Co-op buys Somerfield for £1.57bn
  2. Snapshot of the market - november 2008
  3. Morrisons set to name next supermarket head
  4. Student pack
  5. Morrisons seals Safeway takeover
  6. Morrisons faces investor revolt
  7. Morrisons plunge deep into the red
  8. Morrisons face strike action over supply chain IT
  9. Safeway glamour gives way to Yorkshire Bitter
  10. Waitrose snaps up Safeway stores
  11. Struggling Sainsburys buy Safeway stores
  12. UK Business Park
  13. Morrisons sells 114 Safeway shops
  14. Asda moves into Northern Ireland
  15. Waitrose adds 5 more stores to its empire
  16. Waitrose buys more stores from Wm Morrison
  17. UK Business Park
  18. CI Traders buy Safeway
  19. Morrisons pull out of Isle of Man
  20. Friends of Gibralter Heritage Society
  21. Morrisons staff announce walkout
  22. Dematic
  23. Safeway disappears after 43 years
  24. Depot strengthens Morrisons in the South
  25. Man, 72, refused alcohol over age
  26. Man, 72, refused alcohol over age
  27. Morrisons store caught in Yorkshire under-age booze sting
  28. Mother is refused wine at Morrisons – in case daughter, 17, drinks it
  29. Mother is refused wine at Morrisons – in case daughter, 17, drinks it
  30. Mother is refused wine at Morrisons – in case daughter, 17, drinks it
  31. Mother is refused wine at Morrisons – in case daughter, 17, drinks it
  32. Sir Ken Morrison, 76, bows out to applause and sales gift
  33. 'Our stores', Morrisons website
  34. Morrisons sail into Southern supermarket battle
  35. The Guardian, 4 December 2008
  36. The Guardian, 13 March 2009
  37. Market share - August 2008
  38. The Grocer Today - Latest News |
  39. 20/20 rebrands Morrisons - Design Week
  40. Morrisons has fresh choice for you
  41. Morrison buys Rathbone Bakeries
  42. Morrisons wins Retailer of the Year for second year running
  43. [1]
  44. [2]
  45. [3]
  46. [4]
  47. Morrisons scoops retailer of the year award
  48. Morrisons crowned 'Grocer of the Year 2008'
  49. Morrisons crowned supermarket of the year
  50. Morrisons is top of Italian Cuisine
  51. Awards greeting cards winners
  52. Morrisons is first for flowers
  53. Morrison is customer service champion
  54. Morrisons products scoop top industry awards

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