The board of Morrisons will add yet another Tesco veteran to its ranks when David Potts joins as chief executive on March 16. Potts, who began his career on the shop floor in 1973, will replace Dalton Philips who was ousted last year amid falling sales.
Potts has been working as a retail adviser since stepping down as head of Tesco's Asian arm in 2012 and was previously boss of the supermarket's UK operations. He will sit alongside the chairman Andy Higginson, who was finance director of Tesco and later boss of its online arm, and finance director Trevor Strain, who was Tesco's property finance director. It seems Higginson could hardly contain his excitement.
'David is the best retailer I have worked with in 25 years in the industry,' he said this morning. 'Having worked alongside him for 15 years, I know he will bring to Morrisons a focus on the customer, a track record of delivery, flair, talent, and immense energy to his new role.'
He's also had the Terry Leahy seal of approval. When Potts stood down from Tesco in 2011, the then chief-executive said, 'David has been an incredible servant to the company and an inspiration to thousands of our leaders, whose own careers are flourishing because he played his part in developing many of the programmes which made the Tesco retail team amongst the most admired in the world.'
The announcement has certainly pleased analysts and investors. Morrisons shares were up around 1.4% to 194.4p this morning. But Potts has got his work cut out. The supermarket arguably had the worst Christmas of the 'Big Four', with like-for-like sales excluding fuel down 3.1% in the six weeks to January 4th.
Credit: Yahoo Finance
Not everyone was raving about his appointment either. 'The announcement that the new Morrisons chief executive will be David Potts is not exactly unexpected,' said veteran retail analyst Nick Bubb.
'It only remains to be seen what else he has to offer apart from being an old mate of the chairman Andy Higginson and what he’s been doing since he stepped down as chief executive of Tesco Asia at the end of 2011.' Well you can't please everyone.