In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Guardian website titled, 'Morrisons expands super-fast Amazon delivery deal', dated Thu 12 Sep 2019.

The article stated, "Morrisons has expanded its partnership with Amazon for ultra-fast same-day grocery deliveries to more cities across the UK, as it reported a drop in quarterly sales.

"The Bradford-based supermarket group said it had signed a multiyear deal with Amazon, which replaces its previous rolling contract, to cover “many more cities across the UK”."

Morrisons website was checked in November 2020, and this relationship appeared to be ongoing, with Morrisons offering "Free grocery delivery" to Amazon Prime members.

Amazon was the subject of a boycott call by Ethical Consumer for tax avoidance. Morrisons lost half a mark in the Boycott Call category for having a strategic relationship with the company.

Reference:

Morrisons expands super-fast Amazon delivery deal (12 September 2019)

In November 2020 Morrison's website was searched by Ethical Consumer for its policy on genetically modified ingredients.

The following statement was found: "We do not use genetically modified ingredients (including additives and processing aids) in any of our own brand products. We have a comprehensive and continuous product sampling programme in place to help monitor this. In addition, we do not accept products from cloned or GM animals. Like other supermarkets, we are unable to guarantee that GM animal feed is not used in the supply chain for meat and dairy products, unless it’s organic. Such a promise would add to the strain on farmers and increase the pressure on food prices, given the declining availability of guaranteed non-GM feed."

When viewed by Ethical Consumer in January 2019 the Morrison's website, groceries.morrisons.com, also displayed non own brand (KTC) Vegetable Cooking Oil produced from Genetically Modified Soya for sale.

Due to the fact that GM feed may be used and that it did appear to be retailing some GM products it lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer's Controversial Technologies category.

Reference:

www.morrisons-corporate.com/cr/policy (24 April 2018)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Morrison's website, my.morrisons.com, and found that the company sold a range of clothes containing cotton under the "Nutmeg" brand. The clothes were not labelled as being made from organic cotton.

Morrisons' website stated: "Morrisons is committed to improving cotton farming practices globally with the Better Cotton Initiative. The Better Cotton Initiative makes global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector’s future. Better Cotton is sourced via a system of Mass Balance. We are committed to sourcing 100% of cotton used in our Nutmeg clothing range as Better Cotton by 2025."

Although this was a positive commitment, Ethical Consumer looked for policies already in place to cover a company's entire clothing range. As the company's range was not 100% certified at the time of writing, it received Ethical Consumer's Worst Rating for its cotton sourcing policy and lost marks in three categories as detailed below:

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Reference:

www.morrisons-corporate.com (16 January 2019)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Morrisons' 2019/20 annual report, which listed the remuneration of the company's directors. The chief executive was said to have received £4,189,000. Ethical Consumer considered any payment over £1million to be excessive, and the company therefore lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

2019/20 Annual Report (25 November 2020)

Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc was one of the FTSE-listed firms included on a register of companies that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, said risked damaging “the social fabric of our country” by paying bosses too much money, according to a report in the Guardian on 19th December 2017.
The Guardian article stated that in August 2017, May ordered the creation of the world’s first public register of companies that ignored shareholder concerns and awarded “pay rises to bosses that far outstrip the company’s performance”. She said calling out the firms would help tackle the “abuses and excess in the boardroom” and restore public confidence in big business.
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/19/top-british-firms-name…
The public register was published by the Investment Association, a trade body of investment firms managing the pensions of million of Britons, and listed every company in the FTSE All-Share Index which had suffered at least a 20% shareholder rebellion against proposals for executives pay, re-election of directors or other resolution at their shareholder meetings. More than a fifth of Britain’s FTSE companies appeared on the list.

At the company’s AGM in 2017, 48.11% of Morrison shareholders voted against the Directors' Remuneration Report.

Morrisons lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance in light of this report.

Reference:

Public Register (7 June 2018)

According to an article in the Guardian, dated 20th June 2016 and titled "Morrisons' treatment of suppliers again highlighted by watchdog", Morrisons had been forced to repay cash and discipline staff after it was found to have breached the grocery market code of conduct for a second time, by demanding lump sums of about £2m from suppliers.
This article followed on from other instances of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) criticising Morrisons' practice of demanding impromptu payments from its suppliers to fund investments. The watchdog’s government-backed code stated that supermarkets must not “vary any supply agreement retrospectively”.
In May 2014 the GCA had also said that Morrisons had breached the industry code “by unilaterally making deductions from the trading accounts of 67 suppliers”, which the watchdog said contravened “part 3 of the code – variation of supply agreements and terms of supply”. The grocer had subsequently reimbursed the erroneously deducted payments, which it had requested from suppliers who wanted their products to be sold in the grocer’s new convenience and online stores.

The GCA also implicitly denounced Morrisons in June 2015, when in a survey of suppliers which had rated how effectively retailers were complying with the industry code, it had come second last.

Reference:

Morrisons' treatment of suppliers again highlighted by watchdog (20 June 2016)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer downloaded WM Morrison's 'Annual Report' 2019.

The document contained a list of subsidiaries. A number of these were located in countries which Ethical Consumer considered to be tax havens. These were:

Bos Brothers Fruit and Vegetable B.V. (Netherlands)
Farock Insurance Company Limited (Isle of Man)
Wm Morrison (HK) Limited (Hong Kong)
Freehold Investments Limited (Jersey)
Lease Securities Limited (Jersey)
Maypole Limited (Guernsey)
RP (no. 37) Limited (Jersey)
Stalwart Investments Limited (Jersey)
The Medical Hall Limted (Gibralter)

The 2019 'Annual Report' had information regarding the company's operating structure and taxation. It stated:

“The Group takes a compliance-focused approach to its tax affairs, and has a transparent relationship with the UK and overseas tax authorities and interacts with HMRC on a regular basis. The Group’s tax policy provides a governance framework with all related risks and stakeholder interests taken into consideration. The tax policy is approved by the Audit Committee, who also review updates on tax compliance and governance matters.
The Group’s approach to tax is to ensure compliance with the relevant laws of the territories in which the Group operates. The majority of the Group’s stores and sales are in the UK so the majority of the Group’s taxes are paid in the UK. The Group operates a small number of branches and subsidiary companies outside of the UK based in the following overseas jurisdictions:
• The Netherlands: The Group has operations in the Netherlands as part of its produce supply chain. Local corporation taxes of £2m were paid during 2019 (2018: £2m);
• Hong Kong: Offices in Hong Kong were established in 2011 and source many of the Group’s non-food products. Local corporation taxes of £0.4m were paid during 2019 (2018: £0.4m); and
• Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey: The Group’s insurance company is based in the Isle of Man for regulatory reasons. Companies based in Jersey and Guernsey hold UK property assets as a result of historic acquisitions. All profits arising in these companies are subject to UK tax.”

Ethical Consumer considered this a sufficient narrative explanaition of why the company had subsidiaries in juristictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens.

The company did not state why it had a subsidiary in Gibraltar, which Ethical Consumer considered to be a tax haven at the time of writing. However, this was only one subsidiary, which appeared low risk. Overall Wm Morisson did not lost any marks for likely use of tax avoidence strategies because although it did own a number of subsidiaries in juristictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens, it provided a satisfactory explanation and justification of these subsidiaries and their tax status.

Reference:

AR 2019 (2019)