This has been a momentous week in terms of retail people news. And the most high-profile in terms of grocery is the exit of Richard Hodgson from Morrisons. Highly rated when he joined from Waitrose two years ago, he is the fall guy for the alarming dip in form at Morrisons, and will buy under-pressure CEO Dalton Philips more time. It is, nonetheless, an embarrassment for Philips, as he brought him in in the first place, while Martyn Jones - a likeable, safe pair of hands - was shunted into the long grass of a corporate affairs role.
Now Jones is back, temporarily at least, in the hot seat. And it will be interesting to see if he is given permission to reverse some of the more adventurous lines introduced by Hodgson, including M Savers, M Kitchen, M Bistro and Nume - not to mention the Store of the Future concepts - because these innovations had the full endorsement of Philips. The inside scoop is that Jones will continue the strategic work Hodgson and his team had begun, while focusing on better marketing the USPs Morrisons offers in a noisy and me-too market.
“Time is like money among the grocery retail CEOs just now. In short supply”
Adam Leyland, Editor
The other intrigue is over Hodgson’s successor. Jones, still only 54, is the obvious candidate: no-one currently within the business knows the Morrisons customer better and he will provide much-needed ship-steadying capabilities, especially since that other skilled sailor, Morrisons FD Richard Pennycook, will shortly be casting ashore.
On the other hand, John Scouler’s promotion to a group commercial director role at Tesco, and the reshuffle that sees Andrew Yaxley’s taking up a mysterious “new role” at Tesco, is bound to lead to speculation over some job swapping.
In the meantime, former M&S food boss John Dixon continued to shuffle his new pack this week on the fashion side. The removal of two further executives once again buys CEO Marc Bolland more time to effect his turnaround. And it’s a not unreasonable ask, given the time it takes to effect a turnaround in fashion, let alone to build an international business. Yet for Bolland and Philips, time is like money. There’s little of it around right now.