Morrisons chief executive to leave after poor Christmas sales

<p>Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips has left the company following poor Christmas sales.</p>

Morrisons has announced the departure of its chief executive after the supermarket reported poor Christmas sales.

The UK's fourth-largest supermarket stated that Dalton Philips will leave his position by the publication of the next financial results in March after taking up the chief executive role in 2010. It comes after Morrisons posted disappointing Christmas figures with like-for-like sales dropping by 3.1 per cent in the six weeks to January 4th. It represented the worst performance of all the major supermarket groups.

Supermarkets across the UK have been put under increased pressure in recent months by the rise of discounters such as Aldi and Lidl. The pair have performed strongly over the past year with both gaining a better market share and also recording increases in sales. This has ramped up competition for some of the more traditional supermarkets.

Last week both Tesco and Sainsbury's reported a drop in sales over the Christmas period. Tesco stated that like-for-like sales had fallen by 2.9 per cent in three months to the beginning of January, combined with a 0.3 per cent decline during the six weeks during Christmas.

Sainsbury's also struggled with a 0.4 per cent fall in sales in the 14 weeks to January 3rd and the supermarket warned that it faced a "challenging" year to come. Like Tesco, Morrisons is also planning to close ten loss-making stores in 2015.

Sir Andrew Higginson, who will become Morrisons chairman on January 22nd, praised the work of the outgoing Mr Philips and described the move as representing the "next chapter of Morrisons development".

Mr Philips himself said: "Morrisons is a great company with exceptionally talented people and I have been very proud to have worked with them. Over the last five years, we have made many improvements to the business and given Morrisons strong foundations for the future.”

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