AA Awards 2008: Blue Chip FD of the Year

AccountancyAge Awards 2008

In the present financial climate an FD with first-hand knowledge of what it
takes to keep a company away from the precipice of financial ruin, who is also
highly regarded in the City, is invaluable. Richard Pennycook, FD of Morrisons,
winner of this year’s Blue Chip FD of the Year award is one FD that ticks all
the requisite boxes.

One analyst told Accountancy Age Pennycook is highly respected and
thought of as a safe pair of hands. ‘You only have to look at his financial
record since he joined Morrisons. He always sets out a good financial strategy
and delivers good outcomes.’

When he joined Britain’s fourth-largest supermarket as FD in October 2005, he
took on one of the toughest turnaround jobs of his career. Saving a £4.3bn
(turnover 2003) grocer from bring crushed under the weight of an £8.6bn takeover
of rival Safeway was an unenviable task. Morrisons had issued five profit
warnings in 11 months, having seen pre-tax profits slump to £61.5m from £332.2m
the previous year. Pennycook came in and not only turned the situation around,
but put Morrisons on an upward trajectory.

In a research report, one analyst said: ‘ The business continues to win both
new customers and market share. The company is relatively well protected from
the inflationary headwind given its vertical integration for fresh foods. This
is a management team that continually under-promises and over-delivers.’

The current financial conditions are incredibly hostile on the high street
and keeping up with the Big Three – Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda – is no mean feat
as efforts to retain their customer bases become even more aggressive.

Our judges said: ‘Richard’s work at Morrison’s is outstanding. There isn’t
anyone is business who is not aware of his achievements. There are many
excellent FDs in the UK right now but to go into a troubled business and produce
the kind of results he has is what being a high performing FD is all about.’

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