Morrisons announces new chief executive as turnaround strategy starts to takes shape

Morrisons has announced the appointment of former Tesco retail director David Potts CBE as its new chief executive and the long-awaited replacement of departing boss Dalton Philips.

Potts, who will start the role on 16 March, has been in grocery retail for over 40 years having started his career on the shop floor in Tesco in 1973 and working his way up to become its retail director in the UK and CEO of its Irish businesses.

He also brings considerable international experience to Morrisons having led Tesco’s Asian business.

“David is the best retailer I have worked with in 25 years in the industry,” said Andrew Higginson, chairman of Morrisons.

Higginson, who worked alongside Potts at Tesco for 15 years when he was CFO of the supermarket giant, says Potts will ‘bring a focus on the customer’ and will ‘lead from the front, and with distinction.’

“Customers and Morrisons are a great combination to serve,” added Potts, who will be tasked with returning Morrisons to growth as it aims to win back customers lost to the discounters. “This is a great British business with real potential and it is an honour to have been selected.”

Potts will have his work cut out with the Bradford-based big-four supermarket reporting a 3.1% drop in like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 4 January. It is subsequently set to close 10 loss-making stores this year.

Chairman Andrew Higgison, who believes Morrisons is the most distinctive UK supermarket brand, recently revealed Morrisons’ advertising would now shift away from price-focused tactics and begin to focus more on the customer.

Morrisons, as shown by YouGov’s BrandIndex, which measures retail brands index score by looking at consumer perception of quality, value, reputation and satisfaction, currently has an index score of 19.9 – ahead of rivals Asda and Tesco.

Placed sixth out of 26 of the UK’s biggest retailers, Morrisons’ index score has fallen 3.4 percentage points over the last year as it was overtaken by Lidl.