From a market stall in Bradford to the fourth-largest supermarket company in the UK, Morrisons has established itself as a household name. It was first started in 1899 as an egg and butter stall in Rawson Market, Bradford, England, thus the acronym Wm Morrison. Before 2004, the majority of Morrisons’ store sites were centered in the North of England.
However, with Safeway’s takeover that same year, the company’s footprint in Wales, Scotland, and the South of England dramatically rose.
Want to know how & why Morrisons became the leading giant in grocery retailing? Keep reading!
Current operations- Morrisons had 497 superstores in the United Kingdom as of July 2020, including those acquired from Safeway plc. Until 2004, Morrisons superstores were mostly concentrated in the English Midlands and the North of England, but they had begun to expand southwards, beginning with a store in Erath, Greater London, which opened in 1998. Morrisons announced in April 2021 that it will stop selling plastic bags and remove them from its stores, replacing them with paper bags to reduce plastic use.
Store formats– Market Street is stocked by the majority of Morrison’s supermarkets. Packaged meat is near or next to the butcher’s counter, the delicatessen with a cheese fridge nearby, and an Oven Fresh rotisserie counter.
Convenience stores– Morrisons returned to the convenience market in 2016 with a new chain of five trial forecourt stores under the Morrisons Daily brand, in partnership with Motor Fuel Group, following the failure of the supermarket’s M Local stores. Soon after, the stores were closed, and a new partnership with Rotec was formed to open 40 stores across the company’s forecourts. Morrisons Daily stores operated by MPK Garages and Essar began trading under a similar arrangement in 2019.
Morrisons signed a franchise and wholesale supply agreement with Sandpipers in 2018 to operate 43 Morrisons Daily convenience stores in the Channel Islands, which were previously operated under the Nysa brand. By 2022, Sandpipers had converted 19 of their Channel Islands stores to the Morrisons Daily format, including the former Behests of Millbrook store at Lisbon House.
Following a successful trial of 30 conversions in the months prior, Morrisons and McColl’s agreed in 2021 to convert 300 existing McColl’s convenience stores into Morrisons Daily stores over the next three years. This extension is part of a 2017 agreement that sees Morrisons act as McColl’s sole supplier until at least 2027, with the supermarket currently supplying over 1,200 of its stores.
Morrisons resurrected the Safeway brand in 2016 for use in wholesale customers’ stores and Morrisons Daily stores, as well as two MPK Garages forecourt stores that operate under the Safeway Daily banner.
Online retail- In 2012, the company launched its first retail website, “Morrisons Cellar,” which sold wine from all over the world. Morrisons, unlike its major competitors, did not pioneer online shopping. Morrisons announced a partnership with Coad in May 2013 to use its technology systems and distribution infrastructure to help launch its online service. Morrisons has also agreed to supply products for Amazon’s Prime Pantry.
Market share– Morrisons was still the smallest of the “big four” supermarkets in mid-2015, with a market share of 11%, down 0.3% from 2014.
According to CACI, Morrisons dominated the market in ten postcode areas in 2006: SY (Shrewsbury), LD (Landside Wells), WS (Walhalla), TS (Teesside), TD (Hawick), BD (Bradford), HG (Harrogate), LS (Leeds), WF (Wakefield), and HD (Hawick) (Rhodesfield).
Vertical integration- Morrisons, unlike the other UK supermarkets, manufactures a significant portion of its food products at various locations across the country.
Home-delivery service- Morrisons will launch a revamped doorstep subscription program in June 2020, aimed at elderly and vulnerable people who are unable to shop in supermarkets. Anyone living within 10 miles of a Morrisons store is eligible for the service.
Distribution- Morrisons paid £15.5 million for a portion of the failed Rathbones Bakeries, which supplied Morrisons bread. Morrisons opened a new Distribution Centre in Swinton in 2007, and announced that it had purchased a new site near M5 Junction 23 in Bridgewater, Somerset, for redevelopment as a fresh produce packing facility.
Morrisons is one of the oldest supermarket chains in the retail industry, competing only within the United Kingdom. However, no branches outside the country can affect the company soon. As technology advances, absenteeism and a bias-creating environment within the company can also impact them in the long run, like subsidiaries to European farmers and providing low wages to them, in addition to fewer hours can create a huge impact on the company policy. Furthermore, the United Kingdom has recently allowed for a significant diversification of cultural patterns, such as Indian, Chinese, etc.