UK supermarket chain Wm Morrison has announced that it has appointed Poundland chairman Andrew Higginson as its new chairman.
The current chairman, Ian Gibson, will retire from Morrisons in 2015, while Higginson will join Morrisons' board at the start of October as non-executive deputy chairman and chairman-elect. Gibson will work with Higginson until his retirement becomes effective, to ensure that there is a smooth transition.
Higginson is a seasoned retail executive. He took up the position as Poundland chairman in 2012, and is also chairman of retailer N Brown. He was formerly a finance director for Tesco, spending 15 years in total at the UK's largest retailer.
Speaking about the appointment, Gibson said that Higginson "has a tremendous reputation and a distinguished career at the forefront of retailing in the UK, and I am sure he will be a huge asset to Morrisons".
Morrisons, which is the fourth-largest supermarket chain in the UK, has been struggling of late and is feeling the same pressure from the discounters as all the main UK supermarkets. Could Morrisons, which has already signalled its intention to provide lower-price offerings, be hoping to gain an insight into discounters' operations from this appointment? Higginson will certainly bring a wealth of experience to Morrisons, having overseen a major expansion of Poundland, including a stock-market flotation.
Higginson commented, "Whilst there are undoubted challenges in the industry at the moment, this is a fine business, and I am looking forward to working with the great team at Morrisons, who work hard every day to serve customers."
As Higginson will not join the board until October and will not formally be appointed as chairman until 2015, Morrisons' beleaguered chief executive, Dalton Philips, has been granted a bit of a reprieve. It will be interesting to see in which direction Higginson wishes to take the retailer and whether Philips is part of the plans.
Higginson has now stepped down from his role as chairman of Poundland, and will be replaced by Darren Shapland, who has his own fair share of retail experience. Shapland joined Poundland in February as senior independent director, and previously held the roles of chief financial officer at Sainsbury's and chief executive of Carpetright.
It seems to be a positive result for both retailers, as the high-calibre departing chairmen are both being replaced by worthy successors.
© 2014 European Supermarket Magazine by Nicole Gernon
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