One senior retail expert said investors were infuriated by recent press coverage depicting the two men at loggerheads.
He said: “The language used in the papers has been that of politics rather than commerce, which is disappointing. Sir Ken has not been known for briefing journalists and is unlikely to start doing so suddenly, so it would be interesting to know who is the source of these stories.”
Clive Black, retail analyst with Shore Capital, agreed that a perception of public squabbling was counterproductive for a company that needs stability as it completes the difficult process of integrating Safeway outlets.
“We are not saying that change isn’t needed. However,
Morrisons needs to focus on the management of its stores rather than this bickering in the boardroom,” he added.
Having this week agreed to Jones’ nominations for three new non-executive directors, Sir Ken appears to have survived intact, for the time being at least.
Speculation was rife in the City that Jones, up until now the company’s only non-executive director, was prepared to call on shareholders for Sir Ken’s head, should he not agree to his choice of appointees.
Meanwhile, Morrisons appears to have remained focused on its stores. Earlier this month it won The Grocer 33 awards for the retailer with the best availability and customer service. Standards in store seem to be improving - this week’s Grocer 33 survey saw Safeway in Stratford-upon-Avon provide a full basket to scoop our Top Store of the week title.
The appointment of the three non-executives, Brian Flanagan, Susan Murray and Nigel Robertson, also appears to have appeased shareholders and given Sir Ken the room he needs to finish the Safeway job.
David Somerlinck from city institution Pension Investment Research Consultants welcomed the appointments, but warned that shareholders would still be monitoring the situation.
Ronan Hegarty City analysts have called on Sir Ken Morrison and Morrisons non-executive deputy chairman David Jones to make peace in order to keep any rift out of the newspapers.