A new Morrisons is taking shape, says chief

Chief executive David Potts said: "A new Morrisons is beginning to take shape."
Chief executive David Potts said: "A new Morrisons is beginning to take shape."
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​Morrisons has ​beaten expectations with a 40 per cent leap in half year profits and its seventh ​consecutive quarter of rising sales.

The Bradford-based grocer said pre-tax profits jumped to £200​m in the six months to July 30​ and turnover rose 4.8​ per cent​ to £8.42​bn.
T​he all important like-for-like sales figure beat expectations of a 2.6 per cent increase to come in at 3 per cent over the first half. Like-for-like sales rose 3.4 per cent in the first three months and by 2.6 per cent in the second quarter.
Morrisons​'​ chief executive David Potts, who is overseeing a turnaround of the business, said: "A new Morrisons is beginning to take shape.
"Morrisons is becoming a broader and stronger business."
He said more customers are visiting the group's stores, with customer transactions up 3.9 per cent.
"Many of our customers are on a tight budget," said Mr Potts.
"If people are feeling the pinch, they tend to shift out of brands to own brands."
Customer satisfaction improved by 5 per cent year on year and Morrisons is now joint number one for check out times, up from sixth place.
Phil Dorrell, partner at Retail Remedy, said: "What is interesting about Morrisons is that it gets on with the job.
"While its competitors watch each other, and try to out manoeuvre, our impression of Morrisons is one of steering its own path.
"Morrisons is focusing on its strengths, not the weaknesses of others. Strategically this will always be the most successful way forward, particularly when coupled with David Potts' strong leadership."
​Morrisons said that two thirds of its products are British, which has helped it to keep inflation down as import costs rise.
"Customers genuinely like to buy local," said Mr Potts.
"We are local and authentic - asparagus from Yorkshire, kale from Lincolnshire. We will be listing 278 local items. We must be a bit quirky and carry more local items."
Morrisons said the market has had to raise prices, particularly in dairy where butter and cream have shot up in price.
Conversely potato prices have come down.
"We've taken out the middle men," said Mr Potts.
"We've got a direct relationship with 300 potato growers."
Mr Potts has led a recovery of the grocery chain by investing in price cuts and c​losing under-performing stores in ​an ​attempt to turn ​to reverse the supermarket​ chain's fall from grace.
​Last month ​Morrisons said it will relaunch the Safeway brand after striking a deal with McColl's to supply the convenience store chain with groceries.
The partnership will see the supermarket supply Safeway and branded products to 1,300 convenience shops and 350 newsagents starting from January next year.
The move will help Morrisons secure wholesale sales of £700​m including tobacco by the end of next year, with the ​figure set to rise to £1​bn.
Morrisons has increased its profit guidance for the full year.
A former executive ​at​ market leader Tesco, ​Mr ​Potts joined Morrisons in 2015 tasked with reviving the group after it was badly hurt by the rise of discounters Aldi and Lidl in its ​N​orthern heartland.
He has delivered a steady improvement in trading, driving a 27 per​ ​cent rise in the company’s shares over the last year.
Mr ​Potts ​has ​also ​renegotiated ​an ​agreement with distributor Ocado and s​igned a​ wholesale supply deal with Amazon.
​​Chairman Andrew Higginson​ said: ​​“With good trading momentum and a strategy to build a broader, stronger Morrisons, the business is well set to continue to deliver consistent and sustainable growth for its stakeholders​."