Morrisons’ online MD set to leave the business

Morrisons has announced the departure of online MD Simon Thompson insisting it isn’t connected to recent sales woes.

Following recent sales woes, Morrisons has been dealt another blow with online MD Simon Thompson set to leave the supermarket chain.

Thompson, who previously held positions at Apple and joined Morrisons in 2011 to plan its long-delayed move into online retail, will leave the role at the end of January.

His role will be replaced in part by group customer, marketing and digital director Nick Collard, who will take control of the retailer’s home delivery service. Day-to-day responsibilities will be given to Matt Kelleher, trading director for non-food and operations. Online trading director Jamie Winter, meanwhile, will move over to become trading director for operations and services.

Following a 3.1% fall in like-for-like sales for the six weeks to 4 January, figures which made Morrisons the worst performing supermarket chain over the Christmas period, the retailer announced that CEO Dalton Philips will step down after its year-end results in March. Morrisons will also close up to 10 unprofitable stores putting over 400 jobs at risk.

Thompson’s departure, however, is not thought to be related to the plans. “Simon’s departure was a done deal way before Christmas,” a spokesman told Marketing Week, reiterating the online service’s 1.0% contribution to Christmas LFL sales. “After helping us set up a fantastic online service logistically, he is now moving on to something new and we wish him well.”

Morrisons’ online service – which finally launched in December 2013, many years after its big-four rivals – achieved an on-time delivery rate of 97.5% in the pre-Christmas week, and the spokesman said it is “on track to deliver even more positive results.”

The departure is further proof of the “current turbulence within the Morrisons board,” according to Bryan Roberts of Kantar Retail. However, he doesn’t believe it will create any serious repercussions.

“All the noise coming out of Morrisons when it comes to online is positive with good fulfillment and accuracy rates,” he says. “Post-launch, this could be a case of Simon realising that with the weird set-up of Ocado controlling some elements of the business, and the inevitable restrictions, there isn’t much left to achieve and his work is done.”

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