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9am lowdown: Morrisons' chairman says the 'accountants are winning'

30th Jan 2015
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Friday's lowdown news includes a mentoring programme, comments on how accountants are 'winning' from the Morrisons chairman and our last ever 2015 self assessment tip.

Morrisons' chairman's 'accountants win' comments 

New chairman Andrew Higginson said the accountants are winning in the supermarket price war, at the expense of innovation and honesty with customers.

He spoke at the Advertising Association’s Lead conference in London this week. 

While saying that all public companies have to deliver for shareholders, “but too often the accountants win”

Using an example of his local Express store, he said he bought a bottle of wine for £6 that had been reduced from £12.

“It was a perfectly nice bottle but there was no way it was £12. They are kidding me. It was accountants chasing numbers trying to prove the unprovable,” he said. “You see that kind of dishonesty all the time. If you believe the Big Four they’re all the cheapest -  I’m an accountant and reality is none of them are that cheap.” 

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Townsend helps launch CIMA mentoring programme

The coach helped launch a new CIMA developed mentoring programme in Birmingham this week, which aims to offer a helping hand to members and students in the early stages of their career, or be considering a career change.

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HMRC's internal debt management and banking notes

Ever fancied taking a peek at these? The Revenue has published internal guidance for those carrying out work in these areas.

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Self assessment tip - one more day to go!

We did hear reports yesterday of HMRC's self assessment system being temporarily offline - but bear in mind many websites, Aweb included, experienced downtime due to having to install a patch to protect against a new cyber security threat. But if it is down, please do post on Any Answers and we'll look into it! Today's the Revenue's biggest filing day, between 10am - 12pm and 2pm onward. 


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Replies (3)

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By MattG
30th Jan 2015 10:24

Big 4

“You see that kind of dishonesty all the time. If you believe the Big Four they’re all the cheapest -  I’m an accountant and reality is none of them are that cheap.”

From the context I presume he's talking about the big 4 supermarkets, not the big 4 accounting firms?

I've not worked for a supermarket, but I would imagine the pricing and offers strategy has at least as much, if not more to do with the Marketing departments rather than Finance departments. It seems convenient to blame the accountants when speaking at an advertising conference, rather than say the Marketing/Advertising department!


Edit: Actually I lied, I have worked for a supermarket (Morrisons in fact), but cooking chickens at the weekend whilst in sixth form oddly doesn't give you much access to the internal machinations of pricing strategy!

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By stepurhan
30th Jan 2015 11:27


Unless I am much mistaken, there are very strict rules concerning the display of "reduced from" prices that require a product to actually have been sold at that price. (Though for how long and in how many locations does allow for some manipulation) By saying that the £12 price for the bottle of wine is unprovable, he is effectively accusing those supermarkets of breaking the law. Hope he didn't name names.

That aside, the accusations against accountants makes little sense. Even assuming accountants are all about maximising profits (which is a very blunt view) then all they would be interested in is determining the price point that will achieve that. Mentioning any other price is entirely a marketing decision.

By the way, am I the only one who notes that, since he is an accountant himself, Andrew Higginson is effectively saying he is winning?

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By Alan Davies
30th Jan 2015 14:12


I have no idea what he is meant to be saying - as both an accountant and one who worked at Morrisons (in an accountancy role rather than a chicken roasting one).  But what he is appearing to say is that in both his current role as Morrisons Chairman and his previous role as Tesco FD he has been complicit with ripping off the customer.

Not sure these words were vetted by the comms dept beforehand.



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