MORRISONS’ SHARES rose more than two per cent today after the grocer announced the earlier than expected departure of sacked chief executive Dalton Philips.
He will step down from the board and leave the Bradford-based business on February 16.
Mr Philips was originally supposed to stay on until year-end results, which are due on March 12. Morrisons said the search for a new chief is “progressing well”.
In the meantime, chief financial officer Trevor Strain will chair the management board and assume Mr Philips’ executive responsibilities.
Andy Higginson, the new chairman, is already spending five days a week in the business.
He said: “We’re making good progress with the search for a new CEO.
“With Trevor Strain chairing the management board, together with the retailing strength and depth that I’ve seen in my short time at Morrisons, I’m confident that it will be business as usual during this transitional period.”
One of Mr Higginson’s first acts as chairman was to oversee the sacking of Mr Philips, telling The Yorkshire Post that “the numbers speak for themselves”.
Morrisons has had a difficult time over the last three years with plunging sales, profits and market share as the management tried to modernise the company.
Latest industry data showed Morrisons delivered its best performance in more than a year in the 12 weeks to February 1, as sales fell by just 0.4 per cent, beating Sainsbury’s 1.0 per cent decline and Asda’s 1.7 per cent fall. However Morrisons’ market share fell from 11.3 per cent to 11.1 per cent.
Separately, it emerged that the group is getting rid of its controversial misting machines.
Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, said: “Morrisons is in process of getting a grip on things.”