Morrisons choose former Tesco man to restore chain

David Potts started as a shelf-stacker at Tesco. Picture: PA
David Potts started as a shelf-stacker at Tesco. Picture: PA
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A SUPERMARKET boss who rose through the ranks of industry giant Tesco after starting his career as a shelf-stacker is to take control of rival chain Morrisons.

David Potts, who had been the bookies’ favourite for the post of chief executive, will be tasked with returning Morrisons to growth after it lagged its larger rivals, which also include Asda and Sainsbury’s.

The appointment comes after the Bradford-based grocer ousted former boss Dalton Philips last month. It will also reunite Potts with former Tesco senior executive Andrew Higginson, who is now chairman of Morrisons – Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer.

Potts, 57, who will start his new job on 16 March, has more than 40 years’ experience in grocery retailing after beginning his career on the shop floor with Tesco in 1973.

The former boss of Tesco’s Asia operation, he left the group in 2011 after losing out to Philip Clarke as successor to long-time boss Sir Terry Leahy.

He has since acted as a retail expert to several international advisory and private equity businesses.

Higginson said yesterday: “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.”

Potts will receive a salary of £850,000 a year, the same as his predecessor. He will also be eligible for short-term and long-term incentive schemes.

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.”

The departure of Philips after five years at the helm came despite recent signs of improved trading at the supermarket chain. His major initiatives included £1 billion in price cuts over three years and a new loyalty card scheme promising to match discounters Aldi and Lidl.

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