Ex-Asda bosses Archie Norman and Allan Leighton linked to Morrisons chairman role

Kasmira Jefford
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Norman's work at Asda earned him the name “turnaround king”
Former Asda bosses Archie Norman and Allan Leighton are said to be in the running to become the new chairman of troubled supermarket chain Morrisons.

Norman and Leighton were credited with reversing Asda’s fortunes in the 1990s and are both seen as plausible candidates to help revive the chain, which has been losing market share and playing catch up with rivals after a late entry into convenience and online retailing.

British Land chairman and Tesco veteran John Gildersleeve as well as John McAdam, the chairman of Rentokil and United Utilities, have also been linked to the high profile role in reports this weekend.

The hunt for a new chairman comes after Sir Ian Gibson announced ahead of Morrisons’ annual general meeting in June that he would not be seeking re-election next year.

Gibson’s decision to step down came amid growing pressure on the Bradford-based grocer, which issued a dramatic profit warning earlier this year after announcing a £1bn price-cutting plan to win back customers leaving for discounters.

Dalton Philips, the grocer’s embattled chief executive, has argued that the cut on profit was necessary if the firm is to invest in prices and avoid a similar fate to airlines, which he says have failed to react fast enough to the rise of the discount airlines in the 1990s.

The move was followed by similar price cuts by Morrisons’ rival Tesco.

Earlier this month Morrisons ended its disastrous three-year ownership of baby products site Kiddicare after selling it for £2m to private equity group Endless. The business cost Morrisons £163m in writedowns in the last financial year.

A former Tory MP, Norman is currently chairman of ITV and was also appointed to chair investment bank Lazard’s board last year.

Leighton is also chairman of Peppa Pig owner Entertainment One, set-top box maker Pace, and is chief executive of Danish jewellery company Pandora.

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