Morrisons boss puts money where his mouth is

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Potts: now owns 1,002,881 shares following the latest purchase
Potts: now owns 1,002,881 shares following the latest purchase

Related tags: Investment, Shareholder, Stock market

Morrisons ceo David Potts has demonstrated his confidence in turning around the fortunes of the retailer by investing a further £360,000 in shares.

Potts, who took on the role in March 2015 and quickly set about reinvigorating the ailing business, has purchased 180,000 ordinary 10p shares at a purchase price per share of £2.01.

The former head of Tesco’s Asia operations invested £1M in shares within a week of his appointment, and backed it up with a further £500,000 investment last September.

His total shareholding following the latest purchase is now 1,002,881 shares. 

Potts has received praise for the changes he has made to the group’s executive team, and the new culture he has injected into the business.

‘Moved mountains’

In February, Shore Capital analysts Clive Black and Darren Shirley claimed Potts had “moved mountains”​ in his first year in charge, and was likely to make Morrisons “progressively shareholder friendly”​, despite disappointing shareholders in recent years.

Morrisons surprised analysts by posting a 0.2% increase in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, over the Christmas period.

More recently, it announced a pre-tax profit of £217M​ for the year to January 31, compared with a £792M loss a year earlier.

However, sales fell by £4.1bn to £16.1bn in the same period.

“We believe that after a period of sustained turmoil and ultimately decline, about 10 months into Mr Potts’s reign, Morrisons ‎is in much safer hands, resulting in a more competitive business with a stronger financial constitution and a brighter future,”​ said Black and Shirley at the time of the results.

Potts’s investments

  • March 2015 – £1M in 508,000 shares
  • September 2015 – £500,000 in 314,881 shares
  • March 2016 – £360,000 in 180,000 shares

‘Listening programme’

Morrisons has embarked on a ‘listening programme’ that it claimed was informing and shaping the retailer’s six priorities​ that were driving improvements.

Despite the progress, turning the business around would take time and require sustained investment, according to the results statement.

During 2016/17, the retailer expected to realise the remainder of its £1bn three-year cost savings target.

It also believed it would exceed its three-year target for £600M operating working capital improvement and £1bn property disposal proceeds.

Net debt for the 2016/17 year-end was predicted to fall to £1.4bn–£1.5bn.

Morrisons briefly lost its FTSE100 status at the end of last year, but will return to the index later this year.

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