Morrisons CEO is “out of his depth” according to former director

Roger Owen, a former property director at Wm Morrison for 22 years, has launched a scathing attack on the retailer he left in 2009, describing current chief executive Dalton Philips as “out of his depth” and the business as a “supertanker heading towards an iceberg”.

It never rains but it pours, and for Morrisons, Owen believes there’s “rough water” ahead as he called for chairman Sir Ian Gibson to stand down from his position. The heavy criticism is the first time a former director has spoken out publicly about Morrisons’ struggles to come up to date with its competitors, as pressure from shareholders continues to grow on senior management at the supermarket giant.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Owen said that while he was not speaking on behalf of former chairman Sir Ken Morrison, he believed the strategies introduced under the current management team lacked focus and where getting the company nowhere. He added that it was time for the company’s chairman to take responsibility of its problems.

Owen, who left the firm in 2009, said: “He should not be putting himself forward for re-election. If he does put himself forward, I hope sincerely that he is going to be voted off the board.”

In response, Morrisons described Owen’s comments as “unhelpful and unwelcome” and suggested some of the problems now faced by the management team where apparent when he left the board five years ago. A spokesman said: “Judging modern retailing through the lens of the past is never very enlightening.

“These are unhelpful and unwelcome comments reflecting a different era in retailing.“He might be better served taking more of a thoughtful view of his role as a director of a board that left Morrisons, uniquely among the big grocers, with no online and no convenience offer.”

Morrisons chief executive Philips is set to update the City on the retailer’s strategy to turn sales around on Wednesday.

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