Sir Ken Morrison gave a cautious welcome to the appointment, describing Mr Higginson, who spent 15 years as an executive director at Tesco, as “sound and experienced”.
Asked if he thought Mr Higginson should fire the CEO, Sir Ken told The Yorkshire Post: “I have no idea. That’s his decision. He will be making judgements long before he takes decisions.”
Mr Higginson will replace Sir Ian Gibson when he retires in 2015.
Mr Higginson will join the Morrisons board on October 1 as non-executive deputy chairman and chairman elect.
“Mr Philips can sleep easy for a couple more months, but after that the pressure will be on and it will be interesting to see how long he lasts,” said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb.
Bradford-based Morrisons is on a par with Tesco as the worst-performing of the so-called big four grocers, trailing Leeds-based Asda and Sainsbury’s.
Sales fell 3.8 per cent year-on-year in the 12 weeks to July 20 - the same percentage decline as Tesco - while market share dropped to 11 per cent from 11.5 per cent.