Morrisons has parted company with its group trading director, Casper Meijer, because he did not want to relocate from the Netherlands to the UK.
The sudden departure of Meijer, who joined Britain’s fourth largest supermarket in December 2012, is the latest management change at the loss-making business since David Potts took the helm last month.
Within a week of starting his role, Potts had sacked almost half of his senior management team as he set about creating a leaner management board to speed up decision making. Potts replaced Dalton Philips who was forced out in January when the incoming chairman Andy Higginson said he was looking for a “fresh pair of eyes to try and regain some trading momentum”.
Potts – a former Tesco executive – is requiring his top management team to be based in the UK, and preferably in Yorkshire. Meijer did not want to make this commitment to “living a fuller part of his life in Britain”.
While he was living in the UK during the week, Meijer is thought to have been leaving on Friday afternoons to fly back to Amsterdam where his family is based.
“Casper has played an important role in starting the process of making Morrisons better value for money for customers,” said Potts. “However, we both believe now is the right time for this crucial role to be taken by an executive who will dedicate all their efforts to living and working here in Britain.”
An external search was begun immediately for Meijer’s replacement who will be recruited at a time of significant upheaval in the sector as discounters Aldi and Lidl become more popular and shoppers switch to buying more groceries online.
The position will be filled temporarily by Andrew Pleasance, a 30-year veteran of the industry. As Meijer did not have a seat on the board, his pay has not been disclosed.
The Bradford-based business reported £800m of losses just before Potts arrived, and had already earmarked £1bn for price cuts over three years in an attempt to win back customers.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Monday 13th April 2015 18.39 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010