Shareholders urge Sir Ken to sort out succession issue at Morrisons

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The Independent Online

Shareholders are demanding that Sir Ken Morrison, the 72-year-old executive chairman of Wm Morrison, speed up his succession planning and loosen his grip on the supermarket chain.

Shareholders are demanding that Sir Ken Morrison, the 72-year-old executive chairman of Wm Morrison, speed up his succession planning and loosen his grip on the supermarket chain.

They want a nominations committee set up to examine who will succeed him.

One shareholder said that, over the coming months, investors will expect more details about when he will step down. Management changes should include appointing a non-executive chairman and chief executive to replace the single role held by Sir Ken, he said.

Sir Ken should not become non-executive chairman, but leave completely, another investor added.

Richard Singleton, director of corporate governance at Isis, a Morrisons shareholder, said: "I would welcome them setting up a nominations committee. Now that they have non-executives on board, I would also want an audit and remuneration committee. If they do not do that, it would be something we would raise with them."

Morrisons' joint managing director, Bob Stott, said that the board had discussed "succession policies" but had not shared these with shareholders. He added that the group was looking to appoint a third non-executive director.

Morrisons is also facing a backlash from City analysts, who are complaining that requests to meet management are ignored, results presentations are done via conference calls, and that no site trips have been organised.

Rhys Williams, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: "It is now a company in difficulties, and if that's the case, you have to provide more information and more open communication."

A company insider conceded: "Morrisons has always done things very differently. But now the game has changed."

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