The chairman of the Morrisons supermarket chain, Sir Ken Morrison, has announced his decision to resign as the company's chairman.
His announced intention to step down from the grocery business follows a difficult period for the supermarket, which has faced rising cost pressures and a drop in sales despite its acquisition of rival chain Safeway in 2004.
Sir Ken, who has served as the company's chairman since 1967, was last year forced to hand over the day-to-day running of the business to the supermarket's chief executive Bob Scott, after almost 11 per cent of shareholders objected to his re-election to Morrisons' management board.
In a statement announcing his retirement, Sir Ken said: "I have been chairman of the company since it floated in 1967 but have today informed the board of my current intention to retire as chairman and a director of Morrisons by the end of the next financial year in January 2008."
He added that the supermarket's board had invited him to serve as the company's life president following his retirement.
Acknowledging that 2005/06 had produced "disappointing financial results" for the company, Sir Ken stressed that recent structural changes meant that the supermarket now had a "solid base for the future."
Unveiling results for the 16 weeks to May 21st, Morrisons revealed that its like-for-like sales had increased by six per cent and that sales generated through its new stores opened over the last year had boosted its performance by 1.8 per cent.
The supermarket chain is currently looking to appoint a new chief executive following the planned departure of Mr Scott and expects to fill the position within the next two to three weeks.