Morrisons said the trial would be held in a handful of stores in the north-east of England

Morrisons said the trial would be held in a handful of stores in the north-east of England

Morrisons has remained coy about whether it will roll out its voucher scheme across the UK after launching a trial run in ten stores.

The retailer yesterday (12 June) announced the trial would be held in a handful of stores in the north-east of England.

The launch of the trial raised eyebrows in the industry as Morrisons, aside from using money-off coupons at Christmas, has steered clear of providing vouchers during the rest of the year, unlike rivals Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco.

On the release of Morrisons first-quarter results last month, CEO Dalton Philips said the retailer was "carefully balancing" its promotional levels and was prepared to "sit back" from the increased use of coupons throughout the industry "rather than pursue small market share gains at any cost".

"We would rather focus on value in store than customers having to be smart and find a voucher," he said.

Asked whether the launch of the voucher scheme represented a change of heart from Morrisons, the spokesperson said: "It's a trial, just a trial. So, we'll look at whether the customers like it, whether it works for us as a business and then decide whether we roll it out any further or leave it in the long grass. You will see we tend to trial things first before we go live with them."

Morrisons' previous voucher schemes have been in the run-up to Christmas. Last year, the retailer spent GBP35m (US$54.5m) on a Collector Card campaign, which gave shoppers GBP25 off a GBP40 transaction between 12 and 31 December. 

The new scheme falls into two categories, a money-off discount on a full grocery shop and money off a particular product.

"One is basket spend money off and one is money off something you buy," the spokesperson told just-food. "It's a way of giving customers at the till a discount on their shop.

"The money-off voucher, for example, could be GBP2 off a GBP40 shop, a trigger spend, a very simple mechanic. The other type of voucher is money off a particular product. So, for example, if you go to a checkout and you have a couple of pizzas in your trolley, you may get a money-off voucher for a similar pizza," the spokesperson said.

In a bid to attract the UK's cautious - but promiscuous - consumers, retailers are increasing their use of money-off coupons. Tesco CEO Philip Clarke said on Monday the UK's largest retailer had introduced more vouchers after an admission in January it had been slow to use coupons.

However, Clarke said there had been an "unhelpful" increase in the use of coupons across the industry.

Sainsbury's has also used vouchers or coupons as a common tactic. The retailer issued 375m coupons to its shoppers in its last financial year.