Could an interim CEO turnaround Morrisons’ fortune?

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Written by Jason Atkinson on 27 January 2015 in Opinion

Highly skilled, interim managers know what is needed and get it done – a strategy which could benefit Morrisons right now, Jason Atkinson says

A recent Guardian article entitled, Wanted: new Morrisons CEO. Same as old one, but without the mistakes[i] talks about the recent removal of Dalton Philips as the company’s chief executive.

The article highlighted that despite most people, including Morrisons’ new chairman, Andy Higginson thinking that Philips was on the right track to turn around the supermarkets fortunes, his strategy of cutting prices, even if it meant lower profits, came too late.

Morrisons’ Christmas sales were down 3.1 per cent - worse than Tesco and Sainsbury – so it was no surprise that after five years the CEO stepped down.

A new CEO is now needed and in the words of Andy Higginson they need to be someone “without L-plates”.

One sensible option is for the struggling retailer would be to employ an experienced interim CEO who can hit the ground running. This approach worked well for Thomas Cook who employed Sam Weihagen as interim CEO following the departure of Manny Fontenla-Nova in 2011.

Interims don’t come with L plates. They are highly skilled and experienced practitioners. They are can be a cost effective option for companies, they are risk free as they are only hired for as long as the business needs them and they can be in situ quickly.

Highly skilled at assessing situations, they know what is needed and get it done – a strategy which could benefit Morrisons right now.

Interims also don’t expect ‘golden hellos and goodbyes’, they are focused on getting the job done and delivering results. While a company can be expected to pay from £650 a day upwards for a CEO level interim – they certainly won’t come with ‘L plates’. They will be overqualified for the role and able to take the helm and hit the ground running.

With interims, there are no costly pay offs once they have left and no other overheads such as holiday pay, pensions or bonuses to be paid either.

 If they do a job well, they can be recruited permanently, making a seamless transition for a company.

So could an interim manager be just what’s needed to get Morrisons back on track and woo back customers in time for next Christmas?




About the author

Jason Atkinson is managing director of Russam GMS


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