Morrison’s board is planning to honour its chairman Sir Ken Morrison when he retires from the retailer on Thursday after 56 years.

Plans have yet to be signed off, but sources expect Morrison to become life president of the supermarket chain that was founded by his father.

It has also been revealed that the chairman could return up to£1 billion to shareholders over the next two years. The first ever share buyback programme in the retailer’s history will be unveiled on Thursday, when Morrison’s reports its full-year figures.

Analysts have forecast a 70 per cent rise in full-year profits to£558 million. Sales are also expected to reach£13 billion.

Morrison will retain his 15 per stake in his family’s business, the biggest shareholding in the company. His chairmanship will be taken on by Sir Ian Gibson, former deputy chairman of Asda and once non-executive director at Northern Rock.