Morrisons boss steps down, as retailer sees sales fall

Morrisons’ chief executive Dalton Phillips is to leave the company after five years in his role, as the supermarket announced a fall in like-for-like sales (LFLs).

LFLs fell 3.1%, excluding fuel, over the Christmas period, for the six weeks to 4 January. The supermarket also announced the proposed closure of 10 stores, echoing a decision announced by Tesco in its Christmas statement.

However, the Christmas trading figures were slightly better than analysts’ forecasts, that predicted a fall of about 3.8%, but were still worse than rivals Tesco and Sainbury’s.

Morrisons announced Philips would leave after guiding the company through “significant change”. However, Philips has been under pressure after the supermarket posted consecutively poor results.

Chairman Sir Ian Gibson praised Philips for his work, but acknowledged the business needed change: “In the next chapter of Morrisons’ development, we need to return the business to growth. The board believes this is best done under new leadership. I would like to thank Dalton for his contribution as CEO. He has brought great personal qualities and values to his leadership of the business, having had to manage against a background of considerable industry turmoil and change. He deserves particular credit for facing into and dealing with the pricing issues that have now become evident, for taking the business into the convenience and online channels, and for the steps he has taken to modernise the Company’s operating systems. We wish him well for the future.”

In a statement, Philips said he was “proud” to have worked for the supermarket and would continue in his role until the year-end results to ensure a “smooth transition”.

Sir Ian Gibson is set to retire on 22 January and will replaced by deputy chairman Andrew Higginson.

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