Announcing the departures yesterday (March 24), the chief executive said: “I will now be constructing a leaner management board, with the aim of simplifying and speeding up the business.”
The five departing executives – who will quit the board and the company – are: group customer marketing and digital director Nick Collard, group retail director Martyn Fletcher, group property and strategy director Gordon Mowat, group logistics director Neal Austin and convenience md Nigel Robertson. Each was thanked by Potts for their service to Morrisons.
Alongside the departures Morrisons announced the appointment of Andy Atkinson to the role of interim marketing director and Clare Grainger to the role of retail director.
Two executives who have retained their existing roles are Ross Eggleton to lead logistics and Miles Foster to lead the M local chain.
A Morrisons spokeswoman was unable to confirm or deny media reports that the five departing executives had been sacked or whether their roles had been made redundant. FoodManufacture.co.uk is waiting for a response to the question: Did the five leave by mutual consent?
'Bloodbath at Morrisons'
News of the shakeup unleashed a frenzy of media coverage headlined by axe-related metaphors. Headlines included: 'New Morrisons boss takes an axe to management' and 'Bloodbath at Morrisons. See list of headlines below.
Since joining the beleaguered retailer, Potts has invited the headquarters team to join him on the shop floor in a bid to “listen hard” to customers and colleagues, reviewed shopper feedback with senior managers and invested £1M of his own money in Morrisons shares. He has also ended stores’ use of the unpopular Intelligent Queue Management system.
It remained unclear how large the senior management team would eventually become. But an informed source told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the top team was likely to be much smaller than previously.
- Group customer marketing & digital director Nick Collard
- Group retail director Martyn Fletcher
- Group property and strategy director Gordon Mowat
- Group logistics director Neal Austin
- Convenience md Nigel Robertson
Morrisons is not the only one of the big four retailer to see senior management changes. A number of Tesco non-executive directors have left the company recently. Last month Tesco refused to confirm or deny media reports that it planned to cull up to 10,000 roles.
Tesco head office
Up to 6,000 roles were said to be at risk at Tesco’s head office, as ceo Dave Lewis pledged to make cuts of £250M and slash overheads by 30% with the closure of 43 stores.
Earlier this week Morrisons’ chairman Andrew Higginson admitted that the retailer and the other big chains – Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury – “lost their way” on pricing in the recession. “I think the supermarkets collectively have believed they didn’t have to be any cheaper on prices, that they could charge a little more – and that was a mistake, if you like, and Morrisons was no different to any of the others in losing its way on that,” he told BBC News.
“The supermarkets got seduced into this idea of widening margins during a recession and that meant putting up prices and customers twigged that an voted with their feet.”
Many of those feet increasingly visited hard discount stores Aldi and Lidl, which have seen big rises in sales in recent years. But premium retailers Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have also increased their share of food and drink sales.
How the shakeup was reported
- New Morrisons Boss Takes Axe To Management: Sky News
- Bloodbath at Morrisons: New boss axes management: Yorkshire Post
- Morrison ceo cuts almost half of management board in clearout: Bloomberg
- Morrisons sacks half its senior management team: The Guardian
- Morrisons’ new boss ditches five from management team: Reuters
- Five Morrisons execs leave as Potts swings axe: City AM
- Morrisons new boss wields axe: Euronews
“A measure intended to reduce costs drastically, especially one involving redundancies.”