Morrisons chief poaches Waitrose marketing boss
MORRISONS’ new boss is shaking up the boardroom and bringing in his own man after just two months at the helm.
Dalton Philips has poached Richard Hodgson from Waitrose on an estimated £1mplus pay and bonus package t o be group commercial director.
He will be in charge of trading and will work with a broad remit as the Irishman’s righthand man.
Hodgson used to work under Allan Leighton and Archie Norman at Asda in the 1990s – the same duo who recommended Philips for the Morrisons job – so there are no prizes for guessing how the two got together.
And while Hodgson was at Asda, Philips worked for Asda’s parent company Wal-Mart in its international division as well as later working under Leighton at Canadian food group Loblaw.
Philips, who became chief executive at Morrisons at the end of March, said Hodgson’s appointment ‘underlines Morrisons’ ability to attract the best talent in retail to our team’.
Retail sources praised Hodgson as a clever marketeer who has good commercial nous. Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose, where Hodgson has worked since 2006 said he has ‘done a great job’ and ‘ goes with our gratitude’.
It is a return to his Yorkshire roots for Hodgson, who grew up in Leeds. He is likely to be on a base salary of at least £500,000 a year plus a bonus and shares.
While his appointment will provide a boost to Philips, it may have ruffled a few feathers internally.
The current trading director, Martyn Jones, who has been at Morrisons for 20 years, is being demoted from the main board and moved into a new role as corporate services director.
He will focus on improving the supermarket chain’s contacts in Whitehall and regulatory circles as well as corporate responsibility and food safety.
But there is no denying that it is a less important role without a boardroom position. The changeover will take place in September.
Some wonder whether Morrisons’ long-serving retail director, Mark Gunter, and its finance director, Richard Pennycook, who was passed over for the chief executive’s job, will be staying at the company in the long-term.
Morrisons s hares were unchanged at 262p.
Waitrose is promoting Mark Williamson to replace Hodgson as commercial director. He joined Waitrose in 2004 and has been working as supply chain director.