This article is about the British businessman. For the American TV producer, see Ken Morrison (TV producer). For the American actor, see Kenny Morrison.
Sir Kenneth Duncan "Ken" Morrison CBE (born 20 October 1931) is a British businessman, who is the Life President and former chairman of Morrisons (Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC), the fourth largest supermarket group in the United Kingdom.
Early and private life:
He is the youngest child of the late William Matthew Morrison and Hilda Morrison (née Ryder), who owned a small grocery chain set up in 1899. He was born in Bradford, and was brought up by five elder sisters.
Whilst at Bradford Grammar School, Morrison worked in the family provisions business in the school holidays. He was given jobs such as working on the market stalls or checking eggs against lamps for defects.
Morrison served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps as a National Serviceman, and was demobilised in 1952. His father was seriously ill, so Ken began to manage the business at the age of 26.
Morrison received the CBE in 1990 and was knighted in the 2000 new year's honours list for services to the food retailing industry. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2007 ranking of the wealthiest people in the UK he was placed 35th with an estimated family fortune of £1,595 million. Today, his family retain 15.5% of the company. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2013, his family's wealth was estimated to be £1.05bn, making them 83rd in the list of the 1,000 richest people in the UK.
Morrison lives on the outskirts of York, in Myton Hall, Myton-upon-Swale, North Yorkshire, with his wife Lynne, and his two youngest children.
By 1956 he was the Chairman and Managing Director of a small group of shops, the embryo of what was to become a formidable retail presence, a household name throughout the UK and the largest public company headquartered in Yorkshire.
Whilst the family business was named after his father, Morrisons' head office "Hilmore House" is named after his mother. The original Hilmore House was located in Thornton Road, but moved to larger premises at Gain Lane as a result of the takeover of Safeway.
Just after the takeover of Safeway (completed in 2004), Morrison went from a respected industry figure to a target for disgruntled investors furious at the mishandling of the transaction. In 2001 Morrison described Safeway as an "indigestible meal" for his supermarket group.
Following the Safeway takeover the Morrison group issued five profit warnings, due to integration problems. Morrisons later recovered its financial performance and in September 2006, it announced a £134.2m half year pre-tax profit for the 25 weeks to 23 July 2006. This was a company record, and convinced City commentators that Morrisons had recovered. Morrison was the longest serving chairman of a top 100 public company in the UK.
In June 2006, Ken Morrison announced that he would relinquish executive control of the company, which came into effect from 4 September, making way for the appointment of Dutchman Marc Bolland as chief executive. He announced that it was his intention to stand down as the chairman and director of the company in January 2008, and take the honorary post of Life President. He eventually stood down on 13 March 2008.
His three eldest children have all worked for the business. His son, also named William, held a position within the Group's Marketing function but left the Company soon after his father stepped down. His daughter Eleanor held the position of Poultry Buyer. His nephew Chris Blundell recently stepped down as one of the directors.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license