Sir Ken Morrison has launched a powerful attack on the management of the supermarket chain he built up, criticising its leadership and lack of direction.
Speaking at Morrisons’ annual general meeting in Bradford yesterday, Sir Ken, who built the supermarket into the UK’s fourth-largest chain over 50 years before stepping down in 2008, criticised Dalton Philips’ presentation to more than 200 shareholders on the future of the company.
Mr Philips laid out six key areas for the grocer to focus on, including lower prices, fewer promotions, improving the store experience and introducing a Morrisons loyalty card.
Sir Ken said: “I have something like 1,000 bullocks. Having listened to your presentation Dalton, I don’t wish to lower the tone of the meeting but I’ve got to give you the proper accolade and say you’ve got a lot more b******t than I have.”
Morrisons is attempting to fight back against the discounters by slashing prices permanently following a downward slide in sales, profits, market share and stock market value.
Morrisons crashed to a shock £176m loss in March after costs of £900m wiped out its annual profits.
Mr Philips has said the industry is facing the biggest structural shift since the advent of supermarkets in the 1950s. It recently entered the convenience and online retail sectors - years later than its competitors.
Sir Ken said: “The results are described by the chairman and the CEO as disappointing. I personally thought they were disastrous. I warned in 2009 and 2012 that changes being implemented by directors would seriously damage the business.”
Meanwhile, chairman Sir Ian Gibson announced his decision to step down from the board in 2015.