Morrisons becomes latest British supermarket to be targeted by activist shareholders

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Morrisons becomes latest British supermarket to be targeted by activist shareholders

Morrisons became the latest British supermarket group to be targeted by the activist shareholders over the amount of unhealthy food it sells.

The responsible investment group ShareAction said it had written to Morrisons Chairman Andrew Higginson before the annual shareholders' meeting, along with seven institutional investors managing over $1.1 trillion between them, regarding the need to boost sales of healthier food and drink products.

Last month, market leader Tesco announced to increase healthy food options at the UK offices in Europe and Britain to ease investors who were co-ordinated by ShareAction with a landmark shareholder resolution to force the issue.

ShareAction previously targeted Barclays and HSBC on the issue of Climate Change.

The investors who signed the letter included NEST, Guy's St Thomas' Foundation, JO Hambro Capital Management and Castlefield Investment Partners.

They noted Morrisons has a target to increase the number of personal owned products to 65% of all own brand products by 2025, but says this is not going far enough.

Although Morrisons has made significant progress in reducing the calorie, salt and sugar content of its own-brand products, questions remain about the company's strategy and overall exposure to growing regulatory pressure and consumer trends supporting healthier diets, said Ignacio Vazquez, senior manager at ShareAction that co-ordinated the letter.

Investors want Morrisons to disclose the share of total food and non-alcoholic beverages annual sales by volume made up of healthier products and to publish a long-term target to increase that share substantially.

They also want Morrisons from 2022 to update on its progress towards the targets in its annual reports.

They noted that of Britain's rated supermarkets - Tesco, No. 2 Sainsbury's and No. Morrisons - Morrisons is the only one to fix the health targets that are based on sales.

Morrisons had no immediate comment.

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