Morrisons’ new COO Trevor Strain

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Morrisons (MRW) commercial chief Trevor Strain has been appointed as chief operating officer in a move which sees trading director Michael Gleeson become chief financial officer at the supermarket.

Strain, who replaced commercial director Darren Blackhurst as chief commercial officer in October, having been finance boss since 2013, has played a “pivotal” role at the retailer, according to CEO David Potts who made the announcement today.

In his new role Strain will continue to report directly to into Potts , overseeing commercial, manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, operations development, online and wholesale activities.

Gleeson, who will receive a £490,000 salary for his new role, has been

trading director at Morrisons since 2017, responsible for ambient grocery, frozen, dairy, fuel and services and has nearly 30 years of financial and commercial experience.

Potts said he had played a leading role in Morrisons work to become more competitive and improve relationships with suppliers.

Previously he served as Group Financial Controller and Supermarkets Finance Director having joined following 15 years holding finance roles at Tesco.

His new role, also reporting directly to Potts, take effect on 3 Feburary.

Potts said: “These two appointments are a result of strong management development plans at Morrisons and I am delighted that we are promoting two highly capable colleagues from within the team. I look forward to continuing to work closely with both of them.

“Trevor is a proven and outstanding business leader who has played a pivotal role in the ongoing Morrisons turnaround. Michael has extensive financial, commercial and retail experience, together with a first-class track record, and his appointment will further strengthen the executive team. Together, and as part of the wider Morrisons team, we will continue to build a broader, stronger Morrisons.”

Morning update

Profits more than doubled at Eastern European spirits specialist Stock Spirits Group (STCK) last year as it posted strong growth in its core markets of Poland and Czech Republic.

During the year to 30 September, Stock Spirits posted underlying volume growth of 8% and a 10.1% jump in revenues on a pro-forma constant currency basis to €308.4m.

Sales growth was driven by a 14% jump in revenues from Poland, where it has completed a turnaround and has now posted 29 consecutive months of year-on-year volume share growth.

Along with the results, the company has announced an investment of €25m in additional distillation capacity in Poland, to be completed in three years’ time

Elsewhere, it consolidated its market leadership position in the Czech Repubic, with underlying revenues up 10% on a constant currency basis as it took share in both volume and value.

Overall revenue per litre in the 12 month period was €2.42, up from €2.37 last year, reflecting the progress in improved sales mix and pricing as it focussed on premiumisation.

Profits were up 107.8%% to €28.3m on a pro-forma basis.

Adjusted EBITDA for the 12 month period was €63.2m, up 6.5% on a proforma basis and up 7.4% on a constant currency proforma bas

During the year it completed two acquisitions: Distillerie Franciacorta, a leading grappa, spirits and wine business in Italy; and Bartida, a high-end on-trade spirits business in the Czech Republic.

It was forced to take exceptional charges of €11.7m, primarily driven by €14.3m writedown of brands in its Italian business.

It said its performance in Italy was stabilising, with revenues up 4% to €26.9m, but adjusted EBITDA down 19% on a pro-forma basis to €3.6m from €4.4m.

CEO Mirek Stachowicz commented: “We have delivered a year of good growth as our successful strategy of premiumisation continues to make progress. The turnaround of our Polish business is complete, and we have now delivered 29 consecutive months of year-on-year volume share growth in that market. We have also strengthened our leadership position in the Czech Republic, taking market share in volume and value.

“We continue to assess a range of M&A opportunities following our successful acquisitions this year of Distillerie Franciacorta in Italy and Bartida in the Czech Republic, and are committed to pursuing a strategy of both organic and inorganic growth in order to deliver further shareholder value in future.

“We are also pleased to announce today an investment in our distillation capabilities in Poland, which will bring future value to our business through cost reduction.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is down a further 0.1% to 7,153.5pts on top of yesterday dramatic falls.

Stock Spirits is up 2.7% to 193.4p on this morning’s annual results.

Other risers include McColl’s (MCLS), up 3.7% to 43p, PZ Cussons (PZC), up 1.7% to 206p and Marks & Spencer (MKS), up 1.6% to 189.8p.

Fallers so far today include Ocado (OCDO), down 1.6% to 1,175p, British American Tobacco (BATS), down 1.5% to 2,939.5p, Coca-Cola HBC (CCH), down 1.5% to 2,487p and Greencore (GNC), down 1.3% to 236.4p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 sank 1.8% to 7,158.8pts, suffering its worst single day in two months on renewed concerns about the trade situation between the US and China.

A number of UK retail names were hit by the slump, including Ocado (OCDO), down 2.7% to 1,194p, Marks & Spencer (MKS), down 2.4% to 186.9p, Tesco (TSCO), down 2.3% to 226.3p, WH Smith (SMWH), down2.2% to 2,374p, Greggs (GRG), down 2.2% to 2,006p and Morrisons (MRW), down 1.9% to 195.6p.

FTSE 100 names caught up in the sell off included Reckitt Benckiser (RB), down 2.2% to 5,904p, British American Tobacco (BATS), down 2.2% to 5,904p, Associated British Foods (ABF), down 2.1% to 2,472p and Compass Group (CPG), down 1.9% to 1,850p.

Other sector fallers included Nichols (NICL), down 3.5% to 1,580, DS Smith (SMDS), down 2.8% to 368.3p and Premier Foods (PFD), down 2% to 38.7p.

The day’s few risers included CARR’s Group (CARR), up 4.1% to 151p, Mothercare, up 4.1% to 13.3p, Bakkavor, up 3.1% to 132p, McColl’s (MCLS), up 1.1% to 41.5p and Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), up 0.7% to 421p.