The boss of Morrisons is stepping down as the supermarket giant navigates debt concerns following its highly leveraged buyout in 2021.
David Potts, who has served as Morrisons’ chief executive since 2015, will be replaced by Rami Baitiéh, the former boss of retailer Carrefour France, in November.
It was previously reported that Mr Potts was expected to stay in the role until at least 2024.
There has been pressure on the retailer’s finances over the past year due to greater borrowing costs, caused by higher interest rates.
Morrisons was taken over by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in 2021 in a deal that left the supermarket with a £5.9bn debt pile.
In February, credit ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook for Morrisons from “stable” to “negative”, making it more difficult for the company to borrow money going forward.
The supermarket also lost its title as Britain’s fourth largest supermarket to Aldi this year, as shoppers squeezed by the cost of living crisis sought out cheaper groceries.
Sir Terry Leahy, the former Tesco chief executive and senior adviser at CD&R, said: “Rami is an exceptionally talented and highly capable leader with a strong track record of driving performance wherever he has been posted.
“Rami will bring energy, innovation, and dedication to expanding Morrisons loyalty programmes and digital reach, while ensuring that the company’s long legacy of quality, and mission to deliver value for shoppers, is preserved.
“I also want to thank David for his nine years of dedicated service to Morrisons and our customers. This is a bittersweet farewell for me because I have known and worked with David for decades, but I will be happy to see the start of his next adventure.”
In the three months to July, Morrisons said that sales, excluding fuel, jumped 3pc to £3.8bn
Mr Potts said: “Our sharper prices and new loyalty scheme are resonating strongly with customers and I’m pleased to be reporting our fifth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales improvement.”
He added: “Terry and I have had several conversations about succession since the buyout in 2021.
“We had a clear understanding that I was prepared to devote several more years to Morrisons if that was required, but that if an outstanding successor was identified who could lead Morrisons for the long term, then I would step down.”
Mr Baitiéh, who was born in Lebanon and moved to France for university, has spent the majority of his career at Carrefour, where he oversaw its operations in Taiwan and Argentina before becoming chief executive of Carrefour France in 2020.