What is it about Morrisons that, like the national football team, it can’t seem to find an English manager?
To be fair, after Marc ‘Sven Goran’ Bolland, the Irish Dalton Philips is more of a Martin O’Neill than a Fabio Capello.
But despite a long list of English candidates (highly fancied insider Richard Pennycook, McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook, Halfords boss David Wild, ex-Somerfield man Paul Mason and Waitrose MD Mark Price), not to mention Asda’s Scottish CFO Judith McKenna and Greggs chief Ken McMeikan, Morrisons has opted again for the shock of a total outsider.
Philips is an experienced retailer, so in that sense he’s less of a bolt than Bolland, the dapper Dutch Heineken exec. But I’m not sure whether it says more about the quality of English retail management talent, or about Morrisons itself.
Maybe Sir Ken can’t allow himself to be usurped by a young tyke from the Home Counties. But very capable as Pennycook and the Morrisons executive are, it’s clear the Bradford-based supermarket hasn’t yet mastered the art of succession planning at the highest level. And when Sir Terry Leahy does decide to step down, it will be fascinating to compare and contrast. Will Tesco opt for an outsider, like Pep Guardiola? Or a young, home-grown talent a Steve Bruce as opposed to a Roy Hodgson (though hopefully on a better run of form than Sunderland right now).
In the meantime, what will Philips make of Morrisons? Dalton’s experience in Canada provides plenty of intrigue. Loblaw doesn’t have an internet presence, but it does have a number of fascias and formats. And among its many store concepts, the ‘Fortinos Adventure’ with small shops at the front, opening on to a large open market-style fresh produce and deli area sounds a bit like Market Fresh.
And, of course, Philips will be joining just in time for the World Cup. Game on!