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Morrisons says CEO to go after Christmas sales fall

Morrisons, Britain's No. 4 grocer, said its chief executive would step down after the firm posted the worst Christmas performance of Britain's listed supermarkets.

The Bradford, northern England, based group which trails troubled market leader Tesco, Wal-Mart's Asda and Sainsbury's in annual sales, said on Tuesday it had started the search for a new CEO to succeed Dalton Philips who has led the firm for five years.

Dalton Philips
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dalton Philips

It said Philips has agreed to continue in his role until the year-end results in March to ensure a smooth transition.

Read MoreTesco sales fall over Christmas; dividend scrapped

Morrisons also said that chairman designate Andrew Higginson, a former Tesco finance director, would succeed Ian Gibson as chairman on Jan. 22.

The grocer sales at stores open over a year, excluding fuel, fell 3.1 percent in the six weeks to Jan. 4.

That compares to analysts' average forecast of a fall of 3.8 percent and marks an improvement on a third quarter decline of 6.3 percent.

However, comparatives with the previous year were very favourable as Morrisons' same store sales had fallen 5.6 percent in the Christmas 2013 trading period. The outcome was also much worse than Tesco's and Sainsbury's Christmas performance.