Former Carrefour chief to take Morrisons helm as Potts steps down

Morrisons' incoming chief executive Rami Baitieh

Morrisons chief executive David Potts is to step down in November, the supermarket chain announced today.

Potts, who has been at the helm of Morrisons for nine years, will be replaced by former Carrefour France chief executive Rami Baitiéh.

Baitiéh will take up the role in November and will work closely with David Potts to ensure a smooth handover period.

Baitiéh said: “Morrisons holds a special place for shoppers across the UK, and I am honoured to be joining the business to help build on the strong links the company has with its loyal customers and the communities where it operates. As a manufacturer, wholesaler and seller of food, Morrisons is uniquely positioned to grow in the coming years while remaining deeply focused on customer satisfaction.

David Potts

“I also want to acknowledge the talented and hard-working members of the Morrisons team that continue to make Morrisons an employer of choice in Britain. Our people are our great strength and I see tremendous opportunity for team development in the coming months and years. I look forward to building on David’s strong legacy of always putting shoppers first and thank him for his help in the transition.”

Morrisons was bought for £7bn by US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in October 2021.

Former Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy, senior advisor at CD&R, said: “Rami is an exceptionally talented and highly capable leader with a strong track record of driving performance wherever he has been posted. Rami will bring energy, innovation, and dedication to expanding Morrisons loyalty programmes and digital reach, while ensuring that the company’s long legacy of quality, and mission to deliver value for shoppers is preserved.

“I also want to thank David for his nine years of dedicated service to Morrisons and our customers. This is a bittersweet farewell for me because I have known and worked with David for decades, but I will be happy to see the start of his next adventure. David skilfully led the renewal of the Morrisons brand as well as navigating several twists and turns during his tenure, including the COVID pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, but he leaves the company poised for growth.”

Though Morrisons’ latest full-year accounts, published in March, showed a full-year loss of £1.5bn, the firm also released a trading update today showing a 2.9% increase in like-for-like sales excluding fuel and VAT during the third quarter.

On those figures, Potts said, “Our sharper prices and new loyalty scheme are resonating strongly with customers and I’m pleased to be reporting our fifth consecutive quarter of like for like sales improvement. We are shaping a broader and stronger Morrisons. Alongside the growth in our supermarkets, we have made further progress across the business with our wholesale, convenience and food manufacturing operations also showing consistent growth.”

On his stepping down, Potts, who turned 66 in March, said, “Serving as Morrisons Chief Executive for the last nine years has been the privilege of my working life. There have been so many highlights but the way all our colleagues rose to the immense challenge of the Covid pandemic, fed the nation and made sure no-one was left behind will stay with me forever.

“Rami is joining a very special company with talented and dedicated colleagues and a unique position in British grocery, food making and farming. The Q3 results today show that the business is once again on a steady growth path with plenty of opportunities ahead and I’m full of confidence about its future. In my remaining time as CEO, I will be working hard to prepare for the handover, and I look forward to giving Rami all the assistance and advice that he needs during the transition.”

“Terry and I have had several conversations about succession since the buyout in 2021. We had a clear understanding that I was prepared to devote several more years to Morrisons if that was required, but that if an outstanding successor was identified who could lead Morrisons for the long term, then I would step down.

“After a reasonable shift on the frontline of British grocery retailing, I’m looking forward to a short break with my family and will then look for further ways to contribute to business and to the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic. I will continue to be an investor, supporter, and advocate for Morrisons and look forward to watching its continued progress and development for many years to come.”

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