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New Chairman Says Morrisons Needs To Go Back To Basics To Restore Growth

| International retailers

Andy Higginson, Morrisons new Chairman, believes the ailing business needs to go back to basics to restore its fortunes.

Higginson, who is overseeing the search for a new CEO and is working full time to re-orientate the business, told the Yorkshire Post “It is all hands to the pump at the moment,” adding: “The broad thrust of the strategy is right but it would be disingenuous to pretend nothing is going to change. I think quite a lot is going to change.”

Whilst highlighting the importance of its fledgling online and convenience divisions, Higginson stressed that the main priority was supermarket stores. “The most important thing for Morrisons to do at the moment - let’s be honest the business is not in the best shape - is focus on the core supermarkets,” he said.

Higginson went on to tell the newspaper that the principles with which Sir Ken Morrison built the business up are “completely relevant” today. “Customers move on, the things they want move on, but the basic principles of serving those customers… of a fantastic reputation in fresh food… of being adaptable and flexible to customers and trying to meet and exceed their expectations are very simple principles that pervade the best businesses today,” he said.

Former Tesco executive David Potts is in pole position to take on the CEO role at Morrisons when Dalton Philips steps down next month. Potts worked with Higginson at Tesco until December 2011 when he departed his role as head of the group’s operation in Asia. However, Higginson told the Yorkshire Post that it would be a mistake to assume he will recruit from Tesco. “To be clear, I have no intention of making Morrisons Tesco. The very clear objective is to make Morrisons Morrisons,” adding: “We need to come out and reaffirm what Morrisons stands for in the way they always used to.”

Meanwhile, weekend press reports said that Morrisons is planning to close its two salary-linked pension schemes which could impact around 8,000 of its workers. Letters consulting staff on the change, which could save Morrisons up to £10m a year, were sent out on Friday. The move comes just weeks after Tesco announced it would be closing its own defined-benefit scheme. Both businesses are trying to save money to invest in cutting prices to combat the rise of the discounters.

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