When UK supermarket Morrisons and agency DLKW Lowe signed up former England cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff to front its advertising we questioned whether a sportsman as well-known for his off the pitch japes as heroic deeds on it was a wise choice.
Well Freddie has whacked that particular bouncer for six as Morrisons, now headed by Irish CEO Dalton Philips, has reported quarterly sales up 2.5 per cent, boosted by some clever promotions for the Royal Wedding etc and barbecue promotions to cash in on the strangely warm English weather.
150 miles of bunting to celebrate the RW was sold and sales of bin bags were up 30 per cent, presumably indicating more al fresco eating and quaffing rather than do-it-yourself wedding outfits.
“Our guys did a fantastic job, judging the mood of the nation,” says Philips while acknowledging that the UK retailing market remains difficult as consumers see their incomes squeezed by rising taxes and inflation.
Former Walmart and Laidlaw executive Philips has done a good job at Morrisons since taking over from current Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland. He has improved the stores’ fresh food offer and generally removed some of the rough edges that remained from its heritage as a Northern-based value retailer.
It’s rather reminiscent of some of the changes Justin King introduced when he took over as CEO of Sainsbury’s nearly a decade ago. It looks like Philips is taking over from King as the poster boy of the supermarket industry.
Helped by a certain former Lancashire and England cricketer.