* Andrew Higginson to succeed Ian Gibson as chairman in 2015
* Will join Oct. 1 as non-exec deputy chairman, chairman
* Former boss Ken Morrison welcomes appointment
(Adds detail, analyst, Ken Morrison comment, shares)
By James Davey
LONDON, July 29 Morrisons named Tesco
veteran Andrew Higginson as its next chairman on
Tuesday, turning up the heat on Chief Executive Dalton Philips
as he tries to combat the supermarket's loss of market share.
Higginson, who spent 15 years as an executive director at
rival Tesco, will replace Morrisons Chairman Ian Gibson when he
retires in 2015. Higginson will join the Morrisons board on Oct.
1 as non-executive deputy chairman and chairman elect.
"Philips can sleep easy for a couple more months, but after
that the pressure will be on and it will be interesting to see
how long he lasts," said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb.
Britain's fourth-largest supermarket chain Morrisons is on a
par with Tesco as the worst-performing of Britain's so-called
big four grocers, trailing Wal-Mart's Asda and
Industry data published on Tuesday showed Morrisons' sales
fell 3.8 percent year-on-year in the 12 weeks to July 20 - the
same percentage decline as Tesco - while Morrisons' market share
dropped to 11 percent from 11.5 percent.
The company issued a huge profit warning in March and its
shares have lost a third of their value this year.
Last month at Morrisons' annual shareholders' meeting
Philips' strategy was criticised by Ken Morrison, the son of the
grocer's founder and a former boss of the firm.
Morrison, 82, who ran Morrisons for half a century before
stepping down in 2008, said the grocer's performance was
"disastrous" and called for its board to be bolstered with
On Tuesday, he welcomed Higginson's appointment.
"I think it sounds very good ... He's got good background,
good experience," he told Reuters.
"WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE"
Speaking while on holiday in Jersey, Morrison declined to
give a view on whether Higginson should stick with Philips.
"I'm looking at the results more than anything, that's the
key as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Ken Morrison's wider family owns about 10 percent of
Higginson, who left Tesco in 2012, was most recently the
chairman of discount store Poundland, the chairman of
clothing retailer N Brown and senior independent
director of BSkyB. He said on Tuesday he would step down
"Higginson brings a wealth of experience and talent to what
it has to be said has been a troubled group in Morrisons," said
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black.
Philips has been cutting prices to try and stem a loss of
market share to discounters Aldi and Lidl
in a food market growing at its slowest rate for a decade.
He is spending 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) on price cuts
over three years, aiming to close the price gap with discounters
so customers will recognise Morrisons' points of difference,
such as its supply chain. Morrisons is unique among British
grocers in making 60 percent of the fresh food it sells.
Morrisons shares were up 2 pence, or 1.16 pcercent, at 174.3
pence at 1216 GMT, outperforming the FTSE index of 100 leading
shares which was 0.61 percent higher.
($1 = 0.5900 British Pounds)
(Editing by Paul Sandle and David Clarke)