Morrisons to launch no-nonsense fashion range next year

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BRADFORD-based Morrisons is launching its own clothing brand, it was confirmed yesterday.

The supermarket chain said the clothing range, called Nutmeg, would go on sale in around 100 Morrisons stores from March 2013.

The company said it was aiming to create a range of family clothing that is “no-nonsense, fashionable and simple for customers to
buy”.

The team devising the range is being led by director of clothing Tim Bettley, who arrived at Morrisons this year from the fashion chain Peacocks. Mr Bettley’s 50-strong team is due to move into its new HQ in Coalville, near Leicester, today.

Mr Bettley said yesterday: “We want to offer a different approach from other supermarkets with simple hard-wearing fashion
that is easy for customers to
pick up while they are doing
their food shop. This is a great opportunity because Morrisons shoppers are looking for a fresh approach to supermarket fashion.”

Morrisons, which issues a third quarter trading update on Thursday, is battling to maintain sales momentum.

The UK’s fourth biggest grocery chain saw interim profits drop £9m to £440m after underlying sales fell 0.9 per cent in the first half of the year, and market share figures have revealed further pressure since then.

Morrisons suffered a hefty drop in market share to 11.4 per cent in the 12 weeks to September 30, from 11.8 per cent a year earlier, after seeing the slowest sales growth of all the “big four” supermarkets, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel.

Earlier this year, Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said that it would not be drawn into a promotions war with rivals “at any cost”.

But retail expert Kate Calvert at Seymour Pierce said recent news that Morrisons is offering aggressive discount coupon deals for shoppers “suggests trading remains under pressure”.

Analysts expect like-for-like sales declines to have worsened in the third quarter, with Seymour Pierce and Nomura pencilling in a drop of two per cent excluding petrol and VAT for the August to October quarter.

Expectations for the supermarket’s full-year results are also dropping steadily as sales figures disappoint, with Seymour
Pierce forecasting pre-tax
profits to fall to £910m on a 52-week basis from £935m a year earlier.