So long, Sir Ken

Time for one of the UK's most distinguished elder statesmen to stand up and take a deserved bow: Morrisons has finally named a replacement for Sir Ken Morrison, who has been chairman of the supermarket group for over fifty years.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
It's the first time a non-Morrison will have led the company since its foundation in 1899, and signals the end of a remarkable 51-year run by Sir Ken, who featured as long as four years ago in an MT feature on septuagenarian businessmen. He'd looked set to retire back then, only to decide to delay the quiet of the allotment for a high-profile takeover of Safeway.

It was a big move that didn't fare too well for Morrison, who knew his own turf like the back of his hand but seemed to have bitten off more than he could chew with Safeway. The company ended up in the red, and is still struggling now to find its way. Indeed, if gossip in the City is to be believed, Morrisons' shareholders have been beckoning Sir Ken towards the door for some time.

From March, the firm will be in the hands of new chairman Sir Ian Gibson, currently chairman of newspaper group Trinity Mirror. He'll be charged with burying the Safeway shakes, and leading a newly rebranded Morrisons in strengthening its position as the UK's fourth-largest supermarket.

One story, which may be apocryphal, is that Chairman Ken wasn't averse to rummaging through the stores' bins to see if he could find anything that should have been left on the shelf. Another rumour is that he loved his job so much he used to spend the odd Saturday helping out on the shop floor. You can almost imagine him finding that hard to resist even after stepping down.

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