Morrisons AGM: Sir Ken backs new Morrisons board as shareholders revolt

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A year ago, the former chief executive launched a tirade against former chief executive Dalton Philips, calling his policies and strategy “bullshit” in front of angry shareholders.

But he today urged shareholders to give the new team time to “restore the company to its glory days”.

However, there were angry scenes as shareholders criticised the retailer for handing Philips a £3 million payoff after he was sacked earlier this year, despite presiding over a sharp decline in the grocer’s share price and swathes of customers flocking to discount rivals Aldi and Lidl.

The majority of investors passed the resolution which sees Philips given his payoff, but more than one in three voted against the decision in a rare shareholder rebellion. A total of 36.6% of shareholders voted against it.

However, new chairman Andy Higginson insisted the payout was the “legally minimum” amount they could pay the former chief executive and said for lesser payments to be made would require a complete structural change to the contract lengths for executives.

David PottsNew team: Former Tesco executive David Potts has replaced Dalton Philips as Morrisons’ chief executive (Picture: Morrisons/PA)


The chairman was given a far easier time from shareholders at Morrison’s Bradford head office after he was given a vote of support from Sir Ken, and several present said they had been concerned by the appointment but would change their minds since the former boss has given the top team his approval.


Morrison said: “It gives me great pleasure to present at the introduction of the new chairman and new CEO.

”I’ve personally met both of them and I’m reassured by their stated intention to restore the company to its glory days. Before, we had a fast growing vigorous organisation, respected by its staff, suppliers and customers alike.

“It’s a big job to restore the company’s fortunes, please be patient and allow the new management some breathing space. I have indicated my willingness to assist in any way I can, and have recommended an offer of people, including some of my former colleagues, who can help to recapture the spirit of former days.

”The stronger representation of executives and directors on the board will personally please me and recognise the needs of a retail company.

“Last year’s AGM lasted for over two hours. I am told that brevity is the wit of man. I believe it is also a quality much appreciated by shareholders. I wish you both great success in your new appointments and many years of success.”


Higginson still had to defend Philips being classed as a “good leaver”, explaining that there was no doubt despite the problems the ousted chief caused at the business, he left on good terms.

Shareholders voted against the proposals for various reasons including the payment of bonuses to current executives, in a year when the retailer revealed a pretax loss of £792 million.

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June 5, 2015 |
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