Morrisons’ owner hires headhunter in search for new CEO

Morrisons owner, the US-based private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) has appointed the headhunter firm Egon Zehnder as it begins its search for a new CEO.

The owners of the supermarket chain – which was bumped out of the ‘Big 4’ earlier this year by German discount grocer Aldi – are looking to secure a successor to Morrisons’ long-serving CEO, David Potts, according to Sky News.

The move to take on a new chief executive and strengthen the grocer’s executive team comes just one year after it was acquired for £7bn. Potts said at the beginning of this year that he planned to step down from his role as CEO – which he has held since 2015 – in 2024.

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Chief operating officer Trevor Strain was expected to be in the running at the time, but has since stepped down from his position at the supermarket. A number of internal candidates are now expected to be in the running, according to insiders.

Sky News’ sources also reported that Egon Zehnder has already been approaching potential recruits “with one eye” on finding Potts’ successor, as he continues to focus on improving the Bradford-based company.

Morrisons saved convenience chain McColl’s with a £190m rescue bid earlier this year, after the convenience store group fell into administration. The CMA has given the takeover the green light, with “plans for its integration into Morrisons, for investment and for growth” due to be revealed shortly.

Last week, credit rating agency Fitch downgraded the supermarket giant’s debt rating over its £6.6 billion worth of debt, shrinking profits and falling market share. It was dropped from a BB level to a B, which indicates a “material” risk of default.

It also said it expects growth to come mainly from McColls’ store conversions to Morrisons Daily, as existing conversions deliver like-for-like sales growth following a change in product mix.



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