New Morrisons boss David Potts has sacked half of his most senior management team as he tries to turn around the embattled supermarket group.
The drastic action comes just a week after Potts started work at the grocer, where he has been charged with arresting the supermarket’s slump.
Aside from the chief executive and finance director, the grocer’s 10 most senior executives sit on the group’s management board and five will now leave the company. They are: customer marketing and digital director Nick Collard; retail director Martyn Fletcher; property and strategy director Gordon Mowat; logistics director Neal Austin; and convenience managing director Nigel Robertson.
In a short statement Potts, who spent 38 years at Tesco before quitting in 2011, said: “I will now be constructing a leaner management board, with the aim of simplifying and speeding up the business. I would like to thank Nick, Martyn, Neal, Nigel and Gordon for their service to Morrisons.”
However, observers said that if Potts had merely wanted to slim down the management board, he could have done so without asking anybody to leave. One said: “If it was just streamlining, he could have stripped the jobs from the management board. There was clearly an element of performance.”
The retailer added that Ross Eggleton and Miles Foster will continue to be in charge of logistics and its M convenience chain, respectively. Meanwhile, Andy Atkinson becomes marketing director and Clare Grainger is made retail director, both on an interim basis.
Morrisons declined to say how large the management board would be when further replacements arrive, whether or not Potts aspires to assemble a more diverse senior team than the nine white men and one white woman which he inherited, or how much the bill for paying off those departing would be. However, Morrisons did stress there was no undisclosed scandal that triggered the departures.
The new chief executive is now one of three former Tesco executives running the Bradford-based grocer, alongside new chairman Andy Higginson and finance director Trevor Strain. He was hired on an £850,000 salary after former boss Dalton Philips was sacked in January after the supermarket’s poor Christmas performance.
Potts has not only been dispensing with the services of top executives. On Monday, the company said it was axing its so-called “intelligent queue management system” – which used infrared sensors to determine where checkout queues were getting too long – after it turned out not to be quite so intelligent after all.
This article was written by Simon Goodley, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 24th March 2015 12.51 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010