Leeds & West Yorkshire

Morrisons names Andrew Higginson as next chairman

Andrew Higginson Image copyright Wm Morrison Supermarkets
Image caption Mr Higginson spent 15 years on the Tesco board

Supermarket chain Morrisons has named the former finance director of rivals Tesco as its next chairman.

Andrew Higginson will take over the post when Sir Ian Gibson retires in 2015, the Bradford-based group said.

Mr Higginson was finance director at Tesco between 1997 and 2012 and is currently chairman of home shopping group N Brown.

His appointment comes as Morrisons battles a sales slump in the face of competition from the discount chains.

In May, the company reported its like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new stores, fell by 7.1% in the 13 weeks to 4 May.

In June, it announced a further round of deep price cuts in its latest effort to win back customers - a move which it has warned will hit its profits this year.

Jobs slashed

It was the latest round in a price war among British supermarkets, which are reacting to the challenge of discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.

Morrisons plunged to an annual loss of £176m for the year to 2 February and last month announced it was cutting 2,600 jobs as part of a drive to modernise the way its stores are managed.

Its chief executive Dalton Philips was subjected to a humiliating dressing down at the firm's AGM in June when former boss Sir Ken Morrison compared his strategy with the manure produced by his cattle herd.

Mr Higginson spent 15 years on the Tesco board, including as finance director and chief executive of retailing services - overseeing its online and bank divisions - before leaving in 2012.

He said: "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."

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