FDs set for shake up after M&S move

Richard Pennycook, Morrisons FD

The finance director merry-go-round is set to begin turning again. Morrisons
finance director Richard Pennycook is one of the hotly tipped replacements as
chief executive for the food retailer after Marc Bolland’s impending departure
to take the top spot at M&S.

Pennycook, Accountancy Age Blue Chip FD of the Year in 2008, is
regarded by some as the best internal candidate for the CEO role at Morrisons ­
having already held the interim chief exec post prior to Bolland’s appointment
in 2006.

But he will have his work cut out for him with external candidates already
flagged up, plus experienced group retail director Mark Gunter another potential
for the job.

However, Pennycook’s penchant for swapping companies across sectors as a
troubleshooter might make it difficult for the nomination committee to be
convinced of his retail credentials, despite serving at HP Bulmer, RAC and Laura

One close observer told Accountancy Age: “Pennycook may struggle to
demonstrate his retail and commercial capability. That is an issue he will have
to address at the nomination committee before any decisions are made.”

And over at M&S, while some will question FD Ian Dyson’s long-term future
at the business after missing out on the top role to Bolland, Mark Freebairn of
exec recruiters Odgers Berndtson believes Dyson is more “mature” than that.

“He is aware of the limitations of his role. If he wanted he would have worked
with Stuart [Rose outgoing CEO] to get more operational experience. If he leaves
it won’t be for that reason,” said Freebairn.

Pennycook has previously worked as group FD at breakdown cover company RAC,
cider manufacturers HP Bulmer and clothing retailer Laura Ashley. He has also
worked as chief executive of Welcome Break Holdings. The terms of Bolland’s
contract means he cannot poach former colleagues until 2011.

Other contenders for the CEO role at Morrisons include Waitrose chief
executive Mark Price; chief merchandising officer at Asda Darren Blackhurst;
Tesco’s commercial director Richard Basher; and Tesco’s head of US operations
Tim Mason.

However analysts claim they could be waiting until Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco
CEO, announces his retirement to make a play for that job.

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