Valerie visits Morrisons in Walsall

As part of my Associate fellowship for the Industry and Parliament Trust, I chose to visit a local business. I am also a member of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs select committee (EFRA) and Morrisons is one of the big supermarkets of which there are 2 branches operating in Walsall South. On Friday 20th May 2014, I visited the Morrisons store at Wallows Lane. The other store is in Lichfield Street. I visit both branches frequently and often pick up lunch when I am in the constituency from the Lichfield Street branch opposite my office.


I was met by David Scott who is the Head of Corporate Services -Corporate Affairs, Policy, Charity & Community and other members of the leadership team. We toured the store and had a discussion of the issues affecting the supermarket business. Two days earlier the Queen’s Speech mentioned the soft drink levy which must have taken many people in the Industry by surprise as it has been mooted for some time and the Government had taken no action.

While I have been undertaking the fellowship one of the key areas I wanted to look at was to find out how industry responds to new legislation. And while the Queen’s speech enables a Government to introduce an element of surprise in its forthcoming programme, there has been a suggestion that a soft drink levy may be crucial in the fight against obesity in children and adults.

It was also clear to me that and voluntary targets for controlling salt sugar and fat cannot be voluntary. If we want to address the issue of what goes into our food to make it more healthy, there has to be regulation of mandatory targets. Voluntary targets do not work.

Morrisons efforts to keep the consumer safe are impressive. They own their own abattoir so the health and safety issues are traceable. They also buy the whole carcass from farmers which benefits the consumer and because they own the supply chain they can respond quickly. They have butchers in store so it is similar shopping in the High Street where the experts can hep the customer. Also 95% of bread is baked in store which means the store can respond to increase requirements. With some goods the products are hand finished. I watched a batch of doughnuts being made and finished- a signature Morrison’s goody.

I asked how Morrisons introduced more tills which were staffed rather than self service and I was told that this was as a result of customer feedback. They carry out a customer survey regularly. Similarly issues are discussed with the trade union Usdaw who attend consultative meetings and they have a good working relationship with them.

Morrisons work closely with farmers and they do this through Arla which is a co-operative and the price they pay for milk is distributed back to the farmers. Also farmers sell the whole animal to Morrisons which saves farmers money having to take it to an abattoir and sell parts separately and Morrisons also use any oddly shaped vegetable for use in their own brand meals so waste from the farmers’ crop is not wasted.