Sir Ken Morrison, will be remembered as the man who converted his father’s grocery chain of small stores into one of the biggest retailers in the UK after kicking the bucket at 85 years of age. Morrison’s family reported that he died peacefully in his home in North Yorkshire following a brief illness.

Supermarket Tycoon

Morrison a proud Yorkshireman during his lifetime was respected highly as one of the top guns in the retail world due to his no-nonsense shopkeeping approach. Also renowned for his stinging wit, Morrison told former boss (who stalled business even after modernizing the chain by adopting the Internet and moving into convenience stores) Dalton Philips, that his strategy was nonsensical.

Morrison didn’t have the time for modern fancies like online retailing, but purchased abattoirs, pie-making factories, and vegetable packing sheds as a move to keep waste to a minimum.

From the date (1967) when the company became part of the London Stock Exchange, it recorded nearly four decades of uninterrupted profit and sales growth.

The business was a reliable, regional player which almost grew entirely under its steam until Morrison bought rival Safeway chain back in 2004. This move took Morrison’s business into the south of England making it the fourth largest grocer in the UK.

It also marked the start of a period of dwindling at the chain, as it struggled to combine two different businesses. This lead to a number of boardroom battles that led to Morrison’s retirement back in 2008. As at that time the company had 375 stores, serving 9 million customers weekly.

Morrisons

The current chairman of the company, Andrew Higginson, following Morrison’s death said:

“I know I speak for the company when I say how sad we all were to hear of Morrison’s death. He was inspirational as a leader who stood as a driving force behind Morrisons growth for more than half a century. Though he retired a few years back, his legacy stands it is evident each day in every aspect of the business”.

Sir Ken’s family said:

“Sir Ken was, a unique figure when it comes to the history of retailing in the UK, an honor he achieved after over half a century as the driving force behind the growth of Morrisons from two market stalls into one of UK’s largest retailers ever.

But to us, he will be remembered as a loving and greatly committed family man, as central and inspirational to us in our lives daily as he was in business. His ambition, drive and quick intelligence along with encyclopedic knowledge were unmatched.”

A proud Yorkshireman, Morrison never forgot his roots. He had real love and commitment to Bradford city and its residents. We are sure he will be missed greatly.