Morrisons' new chief exec: "My goal is to listen"
Incoming boss David Potts pledges to return supermarket to customer-focused glory, as it aims to regain ground from growing rivals Aldi and Lidl
The new boss of supermarket chain Morrisons has called upon workers and shoppers alike to share with him what they love and hate about the brand, as it seeks to boost its status in the upper echelons of UK retail. By focusing on improving the experiences of both customers and staff, David Potts believes it will help to revive the company’s fortunes.
After replacing the departed Dalton Philips on Monday, the 57-year-old honcho spent his first day visiting a manufacturing plant and a store, as well as joining the regular head office meeting. In a company video – published for customers to see on the Morrisons Facebook page – the former senior Tesco exec said: “My goal, in the early weeks, is to listen as much as I can to as many of our customers as I can and to as many of our staff that I can. [I want] To see what it is people really love about Morrisons, to see what they'd like to see more of from Morrisons and, to some extent, what it is they would like to see less of.”
He added: “You would be helping me a great deal as I undertake this job, if you were able to contribute your thoughts to the way we can improve your shopping in our business and online. Of course, I am very eager to learn, and I would appreciate it very much.”
By Tuesday evening, the video had attracted 6,500 visits – and numerous comments from staff and shoppers. Potts’ customer-centric approach was amplified by the laid-back style of his presentation in the video, where he sported a tie-free, short-sleeved shirt rather than a stereotypical suit and tie. Indeed, as part of his introduction to Morrisons, Potts also intends to spend time working in a store over Easter.
In his new role, Potts has been tasked with halting the chain’s sliding sales, as it struggles to compete with the rise of discount brands Aldi and Lidl – with further challenges looming from convenience outlets and online retailers. As Insights recently reported, Potts’ predecessor was fired following a disappointing Christmas period for year-on-year sales which, excluding fuel, fell by 3.1% on yuletide takings for 2013. That played poorly compared to smaller falls of 0.3% at Tesco and 1.7% at Sainsbury’s. As a result, Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket has announced plans to shut 10 loss-making stores, affecting 409 jobs. In cash terms, the company made an £800m loss last year.
Potts – who started working Tesco at the age of 16 – is expected to take a leaf from Tesco boss Dave Lewis by implementing carefully targeted price cuts, better availability and improved customer service. Working in tandem with Morrisons chairman – and former Tesco colleague – Andy Higginson, Potts is tipped to revive the chain’s Market Street brand by promoting its trained butchers, bakers and fishmongers, and use its vertically integrated manufacturing facilities – such as slaughterhouses and fruit-packing plants – to provide cheaper and fresher products.
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