Meet Morrisons’ new ceo: David Potts

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Morrisons' new ceo is former Tesco top executive David Potts
Morrisons' new ceo is former Tesco top executive David Potts

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Morrisons has shopped at Tesco to acquire its new ceo David Potts on a salary of £850,000/year plus incentives.

The Bradford-based retailer said Potts would join the business on Monday March 16 2015, after its comprehensive search at home and abroad for a replacement for former ceo Dalton Philips.

The 57-year old Potts has more than 40 years’ experience in grocery retailing. Beginning his career with Tesco in 1973, he rose to become its UK retail director in the UK and ceo of its Irish businesses. Later Potts became ceo of Tesco’s Asian business.

Leaving Britain's biggest retailer in 2011, Potts served as a retail expert to several international advisory and private equity businesses.

‘A track record of delivery’

Chairman of Morrisons Andrew Higginson said: “I am delighted to welcome David as our new ceo. David is the best retailer I have worked with in 25 years in the industry. 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 will lead our colleagues in the business from the front, and with distinction.”

Higginson added that Potts’s skills will complement those of the chief financial officer Trevor Strain and that the retailer now had “the makings of a good team”.

Potts said: “Customers and Morrisons are a great combination to serve. This is a great British business with real potential and it is an honour to have been selected.”​ 

David Potts' CV

  • 1973: joins Tesco on shop floor, becoming store manager and regional director
  • 1997: appointed ceo of two firms in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Spent three years integrating the businesses
  • 2000: took responsibility for Tesco’s Stores and supply chain business.
  • 2010: appointed chief executive of Tesco’s Asian business
  • 2011: left Tesco to act as retail expert
  • 2015: appointed ceo Morrisons

In addition to his salary of £850,000 year, Potts will be eligible for short- and long-term incentives, in line with the firm’s remuneration policy agreed at the last annunal general meeting.

‘Effective retail operator’

City analyst Shore Capital welcomed the appointment, describing Potts as “a highly experienced and effective retail operator”.

Accustomed to working with Higginson and Strain for many years at Tesco, Potts will bring “focus and pace” ​to Morrisons, said Shore Capital’s Clive Black and Darren Shirley. “We view the current strategy as being correct but the execution in particular needs correction,” ​they added.

Team changes and better merchandising should top Potts’ to-do list. “We believe that there could be wholesale evolution of the non-executive team that, to our minds, has overseen some dreadful decision-making ...,” ​said Black and Shirley.

“With pace and focus to the fore, we would expect a material sharpening of Morrisons’ retail act with stronger store standards and improved merchandising under Mr Potts’ tutelage,”

While the retailer’s superstore estate was expected to be the prime focus of Potts’ attention in the immediate future, it will be interesting to see how senior management develops its e-commerce model and the, in their view, flawed 25-year no break clause contract with Ocado, said Black and Shirley.

Shore Capital upgraded its advice on Morrisons’ stock from ‘hold’ to ‘buy’.

Morrisons will issue its preliminary results on Monday March 16. 

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