Jim Armitage: Sir Ken Morrisons’ monstering of Dalton Philips was too much

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The speed, not to mention delight, with which news of the ditching of his trumpeted fruit and veg misting machines was leaked to this office this week was testimony to that.

He was a poor manager of the company, it’s true. But, as with so many of the current generation of supermarket retailers, he suffered from a lousy inheritance.

Yet none of that mattered to the proudly brusque founder, Sir Ken Morrison.

Philips would respond with a rictus grin to questions about how he got on with the old boy.

But he was always supremely professional, praising Sir Ken’s expertise. You could barely detect the gritted teeth. That’s what made it all the more unfair for Sir Ken to attack him so aggressively and publicly at the AGM last year.

Remember it? In front of hundreds of shareholders and the media, the hobbyist farmer stood up to declare: “I have something like 1000 bullocks and, having listened to your presentation, Dalton, you’ve got a lot more bullshit than me.”


It was bullying, undignified and unnecessarily cruel. Great copy for newspapers, of course, but unfair to Philips.

The corporate world is too lacking in outspoken bosses. There are far too many robotic executives being churned out of business schools like Philips’ alma mater, Harvard.

But Sir Ken’s rant was not the way to go about it. He should learn from the dignified assault from another ex-Morrisons boss, the ex-chairman Sir Ian Gibson.

Particularly because he’s attacking Sir Ken.

Bullshitgate was “ill-judged, rude, unnecessary”, he said, adding: “Ken let himself down… I was sorry for the company, but was sorry for Ken as well.”

In other words: Oh, Kenneth, you’ve let me down, you’ve let Morrisons down, but worst of all, you’ve let yourself down. Now, come and drink your warm milk.

Forceful, polite, but massively patronising. Just imagine how that will get under Sir Ken’s skin.

Balls has solution to problem he caused

Diane Abbott said on the telly last night you’ll never catch Ed Balls banging on about tax avoidance. Only the other Ed thinks this is a vote winner, apparently.

Balls prefers to stick to plain vanilla banker-bashing instead. Today he said those guilty of misconduct like Libor fixing should have their bonuses clawed back for 10 years (it’s currently seven).

Good: that’s an extra three years of ill-gotten bonuses made in the City under the Labour government’s preposterously light-touch Financial Services Authority. And whose invention was that, Mr Balls?

Source Article from http://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/jim-armitage-sir-ken-morrisons-monstering-of-dalton-philips-was-too-much-10044782.html

February 14, 2015 |
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