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Shop-slump CEO on eggshells

Of all people, Dalton Philips must always bear in mind that old piece of advice about not counting chickens before they hatch.

The son of a Wicklow egg farmer, Mr Philips is chief executive of UK supermarket chain Morrisons.

Appointed to the role early in 2010, the former head of Brown Thomas in Dublin isn't feeling a warm Christmas glow just yet.

Yesterday Morrisons reported third quarter results that showed its sales in the period, excluding fuel, fell 0.4pc. Sales at stores open more than a year, excluding fuel, declined 2.1pc.

Shares in the company have fallen over 14pc in the last year. The retailer partly blamed the fall on a lower level of store openings compared to rivals and the fact that it doesn't have an online food outlet.

But analysts -- just like customers -- aren't buying it. "We think the relatively slow rollout of new format stores and online are red herrings. Morrisons is underperforming because it needs to do its day job better," according to Panmure analyst Philip Dorgan.

Mr Philips says Morrisons needs to do a better job of informing consumers why it's different from other retailers -- other than, of course, because its sales are falling.

Also, he says Morrisons can feed a family of eight Christmas dinner "with all the trimmings" for £2.49 (€3.12) a head this year. here's something to brag about over trifle.

Irish Independent