Morrisons names new chief exec

24-08-2006

UK supermarket chain Morrisons has appointed a new chief executive, effectively bringing to end the frontline duties of executive chairman, Sir Ken Morrison.

Sir Ken has been in charge of the firm for 50 years since taking over from his father, William, and when Marc Bolland replaces current incumbent Bob Stott as chief executive it will represent the first time that a non-family member has held the most senior position in the company.

Mr Bolland will move over from his role as executive board member at brewery Heineken on September 1st this year.

Morrisons had struggled to appoint a new executive chairman in recent months, with suggestions that 74-year-old Sir Ken was unwilling to relinquish his immense influence regarding the company's direction.

But Sir Ken welcomed the new appointment, saying: "I am delighted to have appointed Marc Bolland as chief executive of Morrisons. Marc has a wealth of experience operating in a highly competitive consumer products sector and also brings extensive commercial and leadership skills to the group which will ensure its continued progress.

"With Marc we will have an excellent management team and I am confident that under his new leadership the group will take up its rightful position as the best grocer in town, and in so doing deliver sustainable profit growth for the benefit of all our stakeholders," he added.

But speaking on BBC Radio Five Live this morning, Chris Gower, food and retail analyst at Mann Financial, remained sceptical that Sir Ken would give up all of his responsibilities, with the executive chairman not retiring and becoming life president until January 2008.

He claimed that "to all intents and purposes Sir Ken is still going to be running the company".

"Sir Ken has built the business, he has got a tremendous following. What he hasn't done though is built up any executive management teams that can run behind him, and we think that is something which is going to cause a problem," Mr Gower added.

"It is obviously going to be very difficult for the new incoming management to have any strategy over the future of the business given that there is such a powerful and influential figure running the business until January 2008."

Nevertheless, Mr Bolland said he was relishing the prospect of getting to grips with Morrisons, which announced losses of £312.9 million last month, largely due to its 2004 merger with Safeway.

He said: "This is a great opportunity for me to head one of the UK's leading companies, and I am looking forward to the challenge."


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