Sir Ken Morrison is to hand over more of the day-to-day running of the Morrisons business to chief executive Bob Stott, as the troubled chain battles to get the integration of Safeway under control.

By stepping down from the operating board and handing over chairmanship to Stott, Sir Ken will no longer take part in weekly operations meetings, although he vowed to “still be around, feeding in information” where it was needed.

The operating board sits below Morrisons’ Plc board and is charged with running the everyday functions of the business.
The announcement was made during yesterday’s annual general meeting.

After the presentation, Sir Ken refused to deny that his move had been forced upon him, saying it had come about during general discussions with the Board.

He also refused to rule out the possibility that he would retire after next year’s meeting.

Deputy chairman David Jones added that he would appoint four non-executives in “a matter of weeks”, and confirmed the hiring of Richard Pennycook as the new group financial director from RAC.

For the 15 weeks, ending May 15, Morrisons reported like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, up 2.3%.

However, its core Morrisons estate was down 2.3%, in part due to increased competition from supermarkets taking over its divested stores.