Morrisons reviews £30m ad business

BDH\TBWA to repitch in contest overseen by the AAR.

Morrisons is reviewing its £30 million creative account, held by BDH\TBWA.

The pitch, which is being handled by the AAR, will start in May and is expected to be completed by the summer. BDH has been invited to repitch and it is understood that Morrisons has already held preliminary meetings with Leo Burnett, Lowe and WCRS.

Media planning and buying, handled by Mediaedge:cia Manchester, is not affected.

The supermarket chain last reviewed its creative account in 2003, when BDH triumphed against Cheethambell JWT, the incumbent of six years.

News of the review comes at a difficult time for Morrisons, which reported its first ever financial loss in March. The group reported a pre-tax loss of £313 million, compared with a £193 million profit last year, as it absorbed the cost of buying the Safeway business. Sales were flat at £12.1 billion.

However, early signs indicate the supermarket chain is starting to reverse its sales decline now all the Safeway stores have been converted. Underlying sales were up 3.2 per cent in the seven weeks to 19 March.

Morrisons is in the process of finding a chief executive. It hopes to hire someone before its annual meeting on 25 May.

Michael Bates, Morrisons' marketing services director, said: "We will be assessing the UK ad agency market to ensure we are working with the most suitable partner for the ongoing development and communication of our brand.

"Our business is moving forward and we are now firmly established as a national brand, trading from 378 stores and serving more than nine million customers per week. The time is right to review our marketing communications and strategic ad approach."

He added: "We continue to enjoy a strong relationship with BDH\TBWA and we are pleased that it has accepted our invitation to repitch."