Former Tesco Ireland head named chief executive at Morrisons in UK
Embattled British supermarket chain Morrisons has confirmed that the former head of Tesco's Irish arm, David Potts, is taking over as chief executive.
He replaces Wicklow native Dalton Philips, who was ousted from the Morrisons role last month as sales continued to struggle in a UK retail battlezone where Aldi and Lidl have made strong advances against traditional chains.
Mr Potts will join Morrisons on March 16.
Highly regarded retail analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital said that the appointment was welcome.
"We now expect a new strategy in 2015 to rebuild the product offer, service and sales growth," he said. "We believe the retail experience of Mr Potts, with over 40 years of experience at Tesco and more recently as retail director of Tesco UK, puts Morrisons in a good position."
Mr Black also said he believes that the potential for Morrisons to improve sales and profits "is good".
Mr Potts (57) also previously worked with Morrisons' chairman, Andrew Higginson, while they were both at Tesco, and with Morrisons' interim chief executive and chief financial officer, Trevor Strain. That should make getting his feet under the table to tackle the retailer's challenges much easier. UCD graduate Dalton Philips - a former chief executive of Brown Thomas - was appointed chief executive at Morrisons in 2010.
But he faced immense challenges in shoring up trading at Morrisons - the UK's fourth biggest grocery retailer.
Ironically, Mr Philips' departure came as Morrisons appeared to have stemmed sales declines.
Its sales fell by just 0.4pc in the 12 weeks to February 1, according to figures from research group Kantar. That was its best performance since December 2013.
Mr Potts was appointed the head of Tesco's Irish arm in 1997, the year the retailer bought Quinnsworth and Crazy Prices from Primark owner Associated British Foods.
Maurice Pratt was chairman of Tesco Ireland.
The new chief executive of Morrisons was among the contenders for the chief executive role at Tesco in 2010, when Phil Clarke won the race to replace Terry Leahy.
Mr Potts was appointed the head of Tesco's Asia business in 2010, but left the retailer the following year and has since been working as a consultant in the industry.
"This is a great British business with real potential and it is an honour to have been selected," said Mr Potts of his new appointment.