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Morrisons will not announce online groceries for another year

Supermarket questions profit available

Morrisons, which has lagged significantly behind many of its key competitors in launching online sales, will not be announcing any grocery e-commerce plans until the end of the 2012/13 financial year.

The supermarket released its financial results for the year today, and while it is keen to make £100 million in savings by the end of 2013/14 through an ongoing business IT upgrade, is still highly cautious about rushing online, questioning the profit available.

Morrisons said 2011/12 saw the deployment of new systems to many parts of the business, as part of a six year upgrade programme that reached the halfway stage. During the year it completed the rollout of the group's new electronic point of sale system to stores and implemented a new trading product master file.

The new production management system for manufacturing is now in operation at all produce sites too. "All of these completed projects are now providing benefits as expected in our business case", said Morrisons. In the coming year, it said, it will also be making changes to core manufacturing, logistics, trading and retail systems, supported by improved management information.

On the online side, Morrisons expressed caution. "Morrisons does not yet offer an online service, as we do not believe any retailer in the UK has achieved the right balance of service to customers and profitable returns for shareholders."

The company acquired online baby retail business Kiddicare at the beginning of the financial year, and will be using the operating platform behind that business to introduce general merchandise ranges via its Morrisons.com site at the end of this calendar year.

Last year Morrisons also bought a minority stake in Fresh Direct, a leading fresh food online retailer in New York. It said it had embedded a team into that business "in order to understand it in great detail before bringing it back to the UK".

But despite Morrisons stating the online food market is "growing fast and is expected to reach £11.2bn by 2016, some 6 percent of the total grocery market", it said "we will outline our plans for online food towards the end of 2012/13".

Last year Morrisons appointed a former Apple executive as head of its promised online food business. Simon Thompson is heading up the team currently working with FreshDirect.

For the year, Morrisons posted a seven percent increase in sales to £17.7 billion, and said underlying pre-tax profits had increased eight percent to £935 million.


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