Sir Ken Morrison this week stressed he was not thinking of retiring as he announced a shake-up of the Morrisons board, including the much-predicted departure of finance director Martin Ackroyd.
The retailer, which shocked the City with a profits warning last week, has promoted Bob Stott from joint managing director to its first chief executive. Fellow joint MD Marie Melynk becomes the sole managing director, with continuing responsibility for trading and marketing.
When asked if this meant he would be taking a back seat, Morrisons chairman Sir Ken said no. “I am committing myself full-time to the job,” he said, joking that he may now be able to get a “few weekends off”. However,
non-executive director David Jones has been appointed the group’s first deputy chairman. He will work together with Sir Ken and Stott to ensure succession plans are in place for all board positions and that good corporate governance is practised. Jones will also seek additional non-executive directors following the departure of Duncan Davidson, who has stood down from the board with immediate effect.
Ackroyd is not seeking re-election at the company’s agm in May. His departure was no surprise to the City, which has been baying for a head since Morrisons announced a £40m reduction in expected earnings owing to a review of Safeway supplier balances.
Sir Ken denied that Ackroyd’s departure after 31 years with the retail chain was a result of shareholder pressure.
“We have discussed it over a period of time,” he said, praising Ackroyd’s “loyalty, hard work and outstanding committment”.
Morrisons is now seeking a finance director from outside the company, a move welcomed by the City. Sir Ken said the best candidate for the job would have financial and retail skills.
He added that Ackroyd would stay on until a replacement was found and that a new role may be carved out for him if the new financial director deemed it fit.
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Siân Harrington