David Potts is stepping down after eight years as chief executive of the supermarket chain. Photo: Mikael Buck/Morrisons/Academy
The boss of Morrisons is stepping down as the supermarket giant grapples with debt problems following a highly leveraged buyout in 2021.
David Potts, who served as chief executive director of Morrisons since 2015, will be replaced by Rami Baytier, former head of retail chain Carrefour France, November.
It was previously reported that Mr Potts was expected to remain in this position until at least 2024.
The retailer's finances have come under pressure in the past year due to rising borrowing costs caused by higher interest rates.
Morrisons was taken over by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in 2021 in a deal that left the supermarket with a pile of debt of £5.9 billion.
In February, credit ratings agency Moody's cut its outlook on Morrisons from “stable” to “negative”, making it more difficult for the company to borrow money in the future.
The supermarket also lost its title as the UK's fourth largest supermarket. Aldi's biggest supermarket this year as shoppers squeezed by the cost of living crisis sought cheaper groceries.
Sir Terry Leahy, former Tesco chief executive and CD&R senior adviser, said: “Rami is exceptionally talented and very capable a leader with extensive driving experience wherever he works.
“Rami will bring energy, innovation and dedication to expanding Morrisons' loyalty programs and digital reach, while ensuring the company's long-standing heritage of quality and mission of delivering value to customers is maintained.
“I would also like to thank David for nine years of dedicated service to Morrisons and our customers. It's a bittersweet goodbye for me because I've known and worked with David for decades, but I'm excited to see his next adventure begin.”
Rami Baytier, former head of retail chain Carrefour France, will replace Potts. Credit: Social Network X
In the three months to July, Morrisons said sales excluding fuel jumped 3% to £3.8bn
Mr Potts said: “Our higher prices and the new loyalty scheme are strongly resonating with customers and I am pleased to report our fifth consecutive quarter of improved like-for-like sales.”
He added: “Terry and I have discussed succession several times since the 2021 buyout.
“We had a clear understanding that I was ready to devote several more years to Morrisons. if it were necessary, but if an outstanding successor was identified who could lead Morrisons in the long term, I would resign.”
Mr Baytier, who was born in Lebanon and moved to France, to study at university. , spent most of his career at Carrefour, where he oversaw its operations in Taiwan and Argentina, before becoming CEO of Carrefour France in 2020.