Morrisons chairman Sir Ian Gibson is stepping down next year. Who might have the right credentials to succeed him at a tough time for the grocer?
There are few more experienced in UK grocery than Leighton. One of the men credited with turning Asda around in the 1990s, he is something of a legend in retailing and a strong outside bet for the job. He went on to chair Royal Mail, before taking the same role at jewellery retailer Pandora and the chairmanship at Matalan, both of which he still holds. Could the long-time friend of Sir Ken Morrison himself be ready to go back to his grocery roots?
Another big-hitter and former Asda chief executive and chairman, on paper Norman – at present chairman of Hobbycraft – would be a perfect choice. His knowledge of UK grocery and wider business acumen is outstanding. He has held heavyweight roles in retail and elsewhere – including the chairmanships of ITV and Australian supermarket chain Coles at present. It would be quite a u-turn after squashing rumours he might take over as chief executive of Morrisons back in 2005 but Norman is known to be a friend of Gibson’s.
Another Asda graduate and illustrious retail name, Ian McLeod has amassed a wealth of experience in grocery, including at Coles’ where he was chief executive and its parent company, Wesfarmers, where he is currently group commercial director. Speculation that he might return to the UK for a senior grocery role has been rife all year and now that Gibson has stepped down, that is bound to intensify.
Ironically, the only thing holding McLeod back might be that he would rather be chief executive of Morrisons than chairman, but either way he looks like a very good bet.
Yet another star from Asda’s past, DeNunzio has moved away from grocery and now heads Dutch DIY chain Maxeda. As well as this role, he is chairman of Pets at Home and the advisory board of Manchester Business School, and a non-executive director at Alliance Boots. He is spoken of with approval by headhunters and could well be one to watch, despite being out of the grocery game since 2005.
It goes without saying that King is eminently suitable in many ways, but the odds of him moving to Morrisons after his illustrious Sainsbury’s career winds down are slim-to-none. One retail recruitment expert described it as likely as “Alex Ferguson managing Manchester City”.
With an illustrious career at some of the biggest names in UK retailing behind him, the former chief executive of Somerfield, Matalan and Asda, and present Cath Kidston chairman has the breadth and depth of experience needed to run Morrisons. As one consultant puts it, “wherever he has gone, he’s made money”.
Brasher left Tesco in 2012 after less than a year running the retailer’s UK business. Speculation at the time was of tension between him and new chief executive Philip Clarke. Clarke at the time maintained “there can’t be two captains on the pitch”. Clearly ambitious, Brasher knows UK grocery as well as anyone and might well be a contender.
The former Travis Perkins and WHSmith chairman, who would also bring experience from, PepsiCo International has an outside chance. He has a wealth of experience and his name has been mentioned by recruitment source as being a good fit for the Morrisons role. Walker was at WHSmith during the Kate Swann era.