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Christmas supply fears ‘slightly overblown’ says Morrisons chairman

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Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson has said supply chain issues have been ‘slightly overblown’ (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)
Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson has said supply chain issues have been ‘slightly overblown’ (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Supply chain issues facing supermarkets in the run-up to Christmas have been “slightly overblown”, the chairman of Morrisons has said.

Andrew Higginson brushed aside speculation that recent challenges could affect Christmas trade and he thinks it will be a “good” festive season for customers.

Asked if he has any concerns over the impact of supply pressures on Christmas, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No, we aren’t worried, it tends to come every year.

“And everyone appears to be ready for it so I think it will be a good Christmas for people – they will want to treat themselves as they usually do.

“There are logistical issues at the moment and those are well publicised and slightly overblown.

“Supply chains in the UK are incredibly efficient and I am sure we will be able to deliver a great Christmas for customers as we go through.”

Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson (Mikael Buck/Morrisons/PA) (PA Media)
Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson (Mikael Buck/Morrisons/PA) (PA Media)

Meat producers have warned that labour shortages could affect the ability to get turkeys and pigs in blankets on to shelves.

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said Christmas turkeys are likely to come from the Continent this year due to labour shortages in Britain following Brexit.

Mr Higginson’s more positive outlook comes two days after the supermarket group agreed a £7 billion takeover by US buyout firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) following an auction.

The move will only be formally confirmed once it is approved in a vote by shareholders, which is set to take place later this month.

Mr Higginson also said he expects to avoid “financial engineering” amid fears that the new private equity owner could strip Morrisons of assets.

“I think private equity gets a bit of a bad rep sometimes,” he said. “Obviously there are good and bad, like in any population, but by and large private equity is focused on growing businesses and that is the way they make their returns, by improving the businesses and then flipping them on a few years on.

“I think that is very much the case here. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice have a good track record, with the likes of B&M of course, of being involved in growing businesses and creating value that way rather than through some form of financial engineering.”

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