Sir Ken: Morrisons board risks repeating Safeway mistakes
Sir Ken Morrison has urged the supermarket he founded to refocus on its core business and accused its management of a “total bout of plagiarism”.
The retail legend said Morrisons’ management risked instigating “the creation of a new Safeway – with all the inherent problems” by shifting its priorities away from the core grocery business in recent years.
Speaking at the retailer’s annual shareholders’ meeting yesterday (14 June), Sir Ken was repeating criticism he first levelled at the supermarket’s previous management team in 2009.
Reading extracts from a letter he wrote to the board that year, he claimed moves into Fairtrade and organic had confused Morrisons’ customers and were adding unnecessary costs to the business.
“I believe the company is preoccupied with many other activities and I fear neglecting the core business is dangerous,” he said. “Be individual and forget about what competitors are doing. Get a grip on costs. They are a key measure of success.”
Responding to events yesterday, Morrisons chairman Sir Ian Gibson said: “To some extent we are trying to do two things at once and that is stretching us.
“We are trying to invent and invest in tomorrow’s business and it needs to be tomorrow’s business because the business that exists now will not be different enough in some years to continue to occupy its position.”
Chief executive Dalton Philips agreed that Morrisons was working to “reinforce differences” with rivals.