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Morrisons and Sports Direct put UK in the recovery position


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

February 21, 2013 | 4 min read

It feels like spring has sprung in the corporate PR world this week. The jury is still clearly out on where we are at with regards to the economic recovery, but everyone in the land of PR is trying hard to paint a positive light.

The UK: recovering from a 'boozy night out'

If I were forced to assess the current economic situation via a beautiful metaphor, I would say that the UK has been placed in the recovery position after a beery night out; but it is unclear if a group of drunkards (let’s call them France and Germany) are going to kick us, or actually all get together so we can all be on our economic way again.

Anyway, better leave such attempts at flowery prose to the marketing folk and get back to my true vocation: talking shite about public relations.

This links us seamlessly to one of my previous columns where I may or may not have given Morrisons a prod over its plan to base its recovery from a poor year around entering the online grocery shopping market.

Morrisons have subsequently gone into overdrive and it certainly looks like they are on the up, courtesy of them snapping up a whole load of defunct Blockbuster and Jessops retail outlets.

If that was not enough to get analysts attention, it also looks like they listened to me when I said that launching an online grocery from scratch would be difficult and there are rumours that they are mulling over a bid for Ocado.

Morrisons’ PR team deserves a medal for how they have handled all of this recent news and the blanket coverage they have achieved. Denials about the acquisition of a load of Blockbuster stores were being pushed out right up until the night before the deal was announced and they could not be more tight lipped about the Ocado situation, other than, of course, trying to distance themselves from the speculation.

The distancing is working though and many of the media are presenting Morrisons as the solution to Ocado’s own problems; the most notable being they are still a loss-making company.

Fantastic work from Morrisons, I doff my cap to you.

Another brand that is flying high right now is Sports Direct. They produced a set of figures that nearly doubled their original growth forecast and appear to be the darlings of the city.

One thing that analysts may not have spotted yet is their slow but sure expansion into new areas and not just their recent acquisitions. I had the pleasure of frequenting my local Sports Direct as part of a failing plan to lose chins two through five via a PE kit and a gym.

It was an experience to say the least, but one thing caught my eye. At the back of the store there was a new section dedicated to consumer electronics and products in no way related to sports equipment.

I asked the staff what this was about and apparently it is a new concept area, testing wider product sales.

Wilkinsons and alike should be a bit twitchy at this news. If Sports Direct decides to switch its focus to this area, their track record of success and strong PR approach means that they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Finally, another sad day for UK manufacturers with Axminster going into administration, a brand that has been going since 1755.

Let’s hope that the administrators look after the brand and their online and offline assets better than those put in charge of HMV and Jessops did.


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