Sir Ken Morrison, the man credited with building Morrisons into a retail powerhouse, has launched a sensational attack on the grocer’s chief executive Dalton Philips.
Sir Ken criticised Philips’ presentation at the meeting, labelling it “bullshit”.
Sir Ken referred to the cattle he keeps on his farm and the inevitable dung they produce. He said Philips had more of it than his herd.
Because the meeting was run by chairman Sir Ian Gibson, who this morning revealed he would stand down next year, Philips did not reply to Sir Ken’s observations.
The comments were made as Sir Ken asked numerous questions about the business and how it was progressing. Gibson said he would reply to Sir Ken by letter.
Morrisons is attempting to fight back against the discounters by slashing prices permanently. Philips has also led the retailer into convenience and online retail – both of which are increasingly important but where Morrisons previously had no presence.
Along with Tesco, Morrisons has been losing ground in the grocery war. Kantar data released earlier this week revealed that Morrison sales fell 3.9% over a 12-week period to May 25.
People present at the AGM said it was a “bruising” occasion when strategic differences between Morrison family members and the board were angrily aired.
Despite Sir Ken’s attack, Morrisons directors were re-elected with the support of top 20 top investors, indicating that there is backing for Philips’ strategy.
Some observed that although Morrisons is finding life tough, it issued five profit warnings under Sir Ken’s leadership following the botched acquisition of Safeway.