Morrisons to invest £19m in fresh food fightback

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MORRISONS IS investing £19m to speed up the supply of fresh produce as it tries to win back customers lost to rival supermarkets.

The Bradford-based grocer is keen to boost its fresh credentials over German discounters Aldi and Lidl, which have invaded its northern heartlands and stolen market share.

The investment will be spread across stores, manufacturing sites and logistics to improve shelf life and lastability and reduce food waste.

A spokesman said that “the goal is to ensure fruit and veg lasts longer for the customer”.

Fresh food items lose eight hours of life in the home for every hour left unchilled in the supply chain, he added.

The spokesman said £12m will be spent on chilling facilities in all stores and £7m on Morrisons’ produce facilities at Flaxby near Knaresborough, Cutler Heights in Bradford and Worsley in Salford.

The spending in stores will help develop a better system to identify all products that need to remain chilled.

All stores will get new chilling facilities to ensure they can refrigerate the right produce at the right time of year, added the spokesman.

He said: “We have the best fruit and vegetables in the market, far ahead of the discounters.”

Alongside the investment, Morrisons has held ‘produce roadshows’ for greengrocers to help increase the focus on managing the condition of fruit and vegetables.

It has also introduced bins for customers to use if they think a particular item is past its best.

The £19m investment will be complete by the end of the year.

Chief executive Dalton Philips is trying to revive the fortunes of Morrisons, which has been hit hard by the rise of discounters and lags behind rivals in the fast-growing online and convenience store segments.

He has faced strong criticism from former chairman Sir Ken Morrison over his turnaround strategy.

The FTSE 100 company last month appointed Andy Higginson, the former Tesco finance chief, as chairman elect.

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