Sir Ken Morrison has welcomed the decision by new Morrisons chairman Andy Higginson to sack chief executive Dalton Philips, saying that the former boss was not qualified for the job.
The businessman, who built the company from a small family supermarket into the UK’s fourth-largest chain, told The Independent: “I think he’s a really nice chap, but that’s not the qualification for the job. You’ve got to be able to run the business properly and I don’t believe he could.”
He urged Mr Higginson to search for a new chief executive with considerable UK retailing experience and suggested he should look to former colleagues at Tesco, where he was chief finance officer, for inspiration.
“Morrisons needs a retailer with knowledge of the UK market and they had people previously with little experience of the UK.”
Sir Ken had been highly critical of Mr Philips, who was shown the door earlier this week after five years running Morrisons, particularly because most of the 46-year-old’s retail experience had been gained overseas.
He added: “I have a lot of friends in the company, and it’s their interests I’m concerned about, and you don’t like seeing them unhappy. They are certainly happy to see Dalton go.
“I think the figures speak for themselves and indicated the low level of performance. The responsibility should rest with the chief executive and the board.”
On Tuesday it was also revealed Mr Higginson would take up his new position nearly six months early, a decision Sir Ken welcomed, along with the purchase of £500,000 worth of shares.
At last year’s annual general meeting, which followed Morrisons announcing a £176m pre-tax loss, Sir Ken addressed shareholders publicly calling Mr Philips’ strategy “bullshit” in fiery exchanges.
Last night, he stood by his comments. “It wasn’t a pleasant AGM but I just felt something needed to be done.”
Sir Ken worked for the company, founded by his father, for 50 years, retiring in 2008 when he was made life president. Since then he has been farming cattle, some of which he still sells to the supermarket.Reuse content