Morrisons insiders have described reports CEO David Potts intends to step down in two years’ time as “well wide of the mark”.
The Sunday Times yesterday reported the supermarket’s new owners Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) had employed headhunters to begin a search for a successor after Potts, who has been at the helm since 2015, signalled his intent to step down.
However, a Morrisons source vehemently denied there was any truth in Potts signalling his intention to step aside.
The suggestion CD&R, whose £7bn acquisition of Morrisons was spearheaded by Potts’ former boss at Tesco Sir Terry Leahy, may have kicked off a search for a successor was not denied, however. It comes amid speculation the new owners do not want to end up in a similar situation to Asda, which is still searching for a new CEO to replace Roger Burnley, who left last summer following Asda’s takeover by the billionaire Issa brothers.
The Sunday Times reported headhunters from Skill Capital had begun to approach potential candidates towards the end of last year.
Morrisons’ chief operating officer Trevor Strain has long been viewed as the leading candidate to succeed Potts, 64, when he does step down from Morrisons, but the source denied any succession plan was in play.
Also over the weekend, Leahy told the FT the new owners wanted to see more stores, new products, and better branding, as well as expanding its e-commerce operations.
Sources stressed Potts had overseen a strong revival in Morrisons’ fortunes during his time at the helm, emphasised by CD&R heaping praise on the retailer’s “strong management team” when it took over.