Successor to the retail throne

Morrisons announced the successor to former chief executive Marc Bolland’s throne this week, with the surprise appointment of Dalton Philips.

He’s the current operations director at Loblaw, a Canadian food chain, and has experience with Wal-Mart’s international operations and Irish department store chain Brown Smith, but in terms of the UK retail scene, he’s a complete unknown, and no one seems to know a lot about him.

There is a cult of personality among retail chiefs in the UK and the bosses of the biggest retailers are fast becoming celebrities in their own right. Sir Terry Leahy, Sir Philip Green, Sir Stuart Rose, Justin King are all recognisable names and personalities.

Bolland is hailed by many industry insiders as a man virtually impossible not to like and a great orchestrator of people, who makes his colleagues and staff feel at ease following his lead.

However, despite being held in obvious high regard, there has been anger about the pay deal he has been given by M&S.

It was revealed this week that he will receive a £15m golden hello in the shape of a cash and shares mix when he joins M&S on 1 May.

The deal has been called excessive but M&S stands by the package and obviously feels that a man of Bolland’s retail stature deserves such a hefty remuneration deal.

Alongside these developments, it’s also been mooted that Richard Pennycook, Morrisons’ financial director may move across to join his old boss Bolland at M&S in the place of M&S finance and operations director Ian Dyson, who was at one point in the running for the M&S top job.

Pennycook was in the final three candidates for the chain’s top job, and there will be obvious friction when Dalton Philips joins the firm. Whether that friction will be workable is yet to be seen, but the fact that Bolland and Pennycook worked together on Morrisons’ turnaround will be attractive to both Bolland and his new employers.

If Bolland is to earn the generous crust he is being afforded by M&S, he will have to significantly impress. Now that the date is set for him to join M&S, he will have to get straight to work to prove that he’s really worth it and Pennycook may be just the man to have at his side.

The next question on everyone’s lips will be what will Sir Stuart Rose do next and will his marketing director Steve Sharp go with him?

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