David Potts is stepping down after nine years as chief executive of supermarket giant Morrisons. He will leave in November, and be succeeded by the former head of the grocery retailer Carrefour France, Rami Baitiéh.
Morrisons said Baitiéh would “work closely with David Potts to ensure a smooth handover period”.
Sir Terry Leahy, the former boss of Tesco who is now a senior adviser at CD&R, thanked Potts for his “nine years of dedicated service to Morrisons” and its customers.
Praising Potts’s “extraordinary service”, Leahy said he had “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”.
He said Potts left the company “poised for growth”.
The group’s most recent annual results, released in March, showed it slumped to a £1.5bn loss during its first full year in private equity ownership. A substantial portion of the £1.5bn pre-tax loss for the period was related to finance costs of £593m, which included interest payments on external debt, as well as interest on its lease liabilities and interest payable on loans to group companies.
Potts said his tenure as Morrisons chief executive had been “the privilege of my working life”. He said he and Leahy had 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.”
Under Potts, who began his career on Tesco’s delicatessen counter, Morrisons underwent a revival of its brand while it was listed on the London stock market. He also presided over Clayton, Dubilier & Rice’s highly leveraged £7bn acquisition of Morrisons. More recently, Morrisons has been losing market share to rivals during the cost of living squeeze as it struggles to keep prices as low as some competitors.
Potts said he intended to take a short break with his family before looking for “further ways to “contribute to business and to the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic”.