An outbreak of sanity at Wm Morrison
Morrison's new non-executive directors – at Moneyweek.co.uk - the best of the week's international financial media.
The outbreak of "boardroom sanity" at Wm Morrison is the best news to come out of the retailer for weeks, said Martin Dickson in the FT. After a showdown, deputy chairman David Jones has forced chairman Sir Ken Morrison to accept three of four new non-executives that shareholders want on the board. Jones has hitherto been the sole non-executive director, reflecting Sir Ken's dislike of non-execs, which he regards as a waste of money. Morrison has issued five profit warnings since it bought Safeway last year, and the retailer is bowing to calls for better corporate governance.
Yet the "arrogant and cantankerous" Sir Ken has made it clear that he won't put out the red carpet for its three new members, said Patience Wheatcroft in the Times. He claims to be angry because none of the new appointees are heavy-hitters who will command the automatic respect of the City. It seems rather that the 73-year old is bitter because, for the first time in many years, he is unable to play dictator at the company.
Sir Ken's story is a classic case of "hubrisovertaken by nemesis", said Jeremy Warner in The Independent. Wm Morrison was a "fantastically successful" regional supermarkets group, which shot into the FTSE 100. Yet its takeover of Safeway has turned into "a textbook example of how not to do it". He immediately imposed Morrison's much lower prices on Safeway stores, thereby undermining profits. Now with shareholders trying to wrest control away from him, it's clear that he's "finished". From "superstar to fallen angel" in just two yearsyou couldn't have "scripted a sadder plot"