LONDON, March 11 Britain's fourth-biggest grocer
Wm Morrison saw its sales decline worsen over the last
three months as it continued to lose market share to hard
discounters Aldi and Lidl, industry data
showed on Tuesday.
Market researcher Kantar Worldpanel said Morrisons' sales
fell 3.2 percent in the 12 weeks to March 2 compared with the
same period the year before, with its market share contracting
to 11.1 percent from 11.8 percent.
Its sales had declined 2.5 percent in the 12 weeks to Feb.
2, Kantar said last month.
Over the key Christmas period Morrisons was by far the worst
performer among Britain's so-called "big four" grocers, which
also includes market leader Tesco, Wal-Mart's
Asda and J Sainsbury.
It has continued to struggle, also hurt by its late entry
into online shopping and local convenience stores - the two
fastest-growing retail channels.
Morrisons is expected to report its lowest annual profit in
five years on Thursday and could also detail plans to sell some
of its freehold property and return surplus cash to
Kantar said that among the big four, Sainsbury's was the
only grocer to hold its market share year-on-year at 17.0
percent and match the overall market sales growth of 2.2
Tesco's market share fell to 28.7 percent from 29.6 percent,
as its sales fell 0.6 percent, while Asda's share fell to 17.5
percent from 17.8 percent, on sales up 0.3 percent.
In contrast Aldi's year-on-year sales growth rate
accelerated to a record 33.5 percent, giving it a market share
of 4.3 percent, while Lidl held on to the record 3.2 percent
share it reached last month.
Upmarket grocer Waitrose shrugged off the pressure from the
discounters with its highest ever market share of 5.0 percent.
"Over the past three years Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl have
taken a combined 3.5 share (percentage) points from the
competition which equates to 4.4 billion pounds ($7.3
billion)per year," said Kantar director Chris Longbottom.
"This has put pressure on the big four supermarkets to
compete for a shrinking middle ground and cut prices to directly
combat the discounters."
Tesco, Asda and the Co-operative have all announced
price-cutting initiatives in recent weeks and analysts expect
Morrisons to do the same on Thursday.
Kantar said grocery inflation was 1.9 percent for the 12
week period - the lowest level since July 2010.
Separately on Tuesday data from the British Retail
Consortium showed UK retail sales slowed markedly in February
after a robust January, as food sales stagnated.
Market share (percent)
12 wks to 12 wks to pct change
March 2 2014 March 3 2013 in sales
Tesco 28.7 29.6 -0.6
Asda 17.5 17.8 0.3
Sainsbury 17.0 17.0 2.2
Morrison 11.1 11.8 -3.2
Co-operative 6.1 6.2 0.7
Waitrose 5.0 4.9 6.2
Aldi 4.3 3.3 33.5
Lidl 3.2 2.8 16.6
Iceland 2.2 2.2 3.2