Morrisons’ chief executive has insisted that “colleagues are safe” after the supermarket was taken over in a £7.1 billion deal.
David Potts, who stands to make millions from the buyout, said new owners Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) would not change “pension arrangements” or contracts.
The private equity firm won Morrisons at auction last month following a four-month bidding war with Majestic Wine-owner Fortress.
Politicians and campaigners sounded the alarm about the move, pointing to Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury a decade ago.
The US giant shut a Bristol factory it had pledged to keep open and put 400 people out of work.
CD&R has said it is “fully supportive” of Morrisons’ minimum pay of £10 an hour and has reached an agreement with pension trustees.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Potts said he had not “picked up any concerns” from customers about the buyout.
“In the research we do every week, it’s more about how concerned they are about Covid,” he claimed.
When asked where he would be next year, Potts, 64, answered that he would “very much hope to still be working at Morrisons as chief executive”.
If kept on by the new owners, he will be reunited with incoming chairman Sir Terry Leahy, with whom he worked at Tesco.
The Morrisons boss also downplayed criticisms of how the retailer had handled the bidding process.
“It was a very tight group of people involved and the business wasn’t distracted,” he said.
“Our colleagues are asking: ‘How would CD&R approach manufacturing? What would investment from CD&R look like? Would our rights be protected?’
“We could be fulsome in reassuring them. CD&R are here to manage their investment.”
Morrisons’ board recommended a £6.3 billion bid from Fortress to shareholders in July, before switching to a £7 billion bid from CD&R the following month.
Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King criticised the management’s “bizarre shadow box” with buyers in September.
“It’s very unusual to get the flip-flopping of recommendations that you’ve seen at Morrisons,” he said.