Morrisons is to ditch its controversial misting machines, the ultimate symbol of former chief executive Dalton Philips’ attempts to broaden the supermarket’s appeal to a more upmarket audience.
The Bradford-based grocer introduced the machines to keep produce fresh and create a sense of theatre, with shoppers flocking to photo the misty fruit and vegetables on their mobile phones.
But they were seen as a sign of decadence by former management who claimed they were part of Mr Philips’ attempts to take the stores upmarket, a charge he has always denied.
Former chairman Sir Ken Morrison said the machines highlighted how Mr Philips had alienated core shoppers, many of whom have migrated to discounters Aldi and Lidl in search of cheaper prices.
Roger Owen, a former long-serving main board director, said: “You don’t need misting – the stores are not air-conditioned.
“It is a waste of money, a waste of time and it does carry a risk unless you spend a significant amount on maintenance.”
The brand’s misting machines were introduced as part of a Store of the Future trial in Kirkstall, Leeds, five years ago, before being rolled out to 300 of the group’s 500 stores.
Morrisons’ group retail director Martyn Fletcher told staff about the decision to dump them earlier this week.
A spokesman said: “This move is about going back to basics, using simpler refrigeration techniques and Morrisons’ traditional strengths in fresh food management to ensure our vegetables stay fresh.”
Morrisons is expected to announce the appointment of a new chief executive over the next few weeks.