The rumours of a split between Sir Ken Morrison, Morrisons chairman, and the supermarket chain's non-executive directors over the appointment of a new chief executive look set to be fuelled by the shareholder meetings scheduled for today (27 March). However, just-food has learnt, Morrisons management hopes to steer well clear of the subject.

There appears to be a deepening rift between the Morrisons chairman, who favours the appointment of a Morrisons old-hand, and the company's non-executive directors, who feel fresh blood is needed to get the company back on track after the costly Safeway purchase that caused the supermarket operator to report its first year of losses last week.

Reports have been appearing in the UK press that meetings to discuss Morrisons' financial results and 'optimisation programme' will be overshadowed by the question of appointing a new CEO.

Indeed, Fiona Mulcathy, Morrisons spokesperson, told just-food: "I would imagine that shareholders would have similar questions as analysts and the press."

However, she said that the routine meetings would not bring any new revelations to light, reiterating the message that Morrison delivered at the results presentation. "We are actively looking for a new chief executive, but we are not going to jump into hiring the first person available," she said.