UK supermarket Morrisons is approaching the final stage in its search for a new chief executive to succeed Bob Stott.

Company chairman Ken Morrison said at the company’s AGM yesterday (25 May) that the board of directors expects to make a firm announcement within the next two to three weeks.

Speculated forerunners include Heineken COO Marc Bolland, Alliance UniChem CEO Ian Meakins, and former Tesco executive David Wild, now the president of Wal-Mart Germany.

Mr Morrison, who has been chairman of the company since it floated in 1967, will retire by the end of the next financial year in January 2008, as previously anticipated.

In conjunction with the annual general meeting the directors released sales figures for the 16 weeks ended 21 May.

Like for like sales in the period increased by 6% including fuel, with sales generated through new stores opened in 2005/06 contributing an additional 1.8%, having completed the conversion of 220 Safeway stores in November 2005.

“Whilst 2005/06 produced disappointing financial results, we now have a solid base for the future. The store estate has been taken to the size and shape which was envisaged and only a handful of disposals remain to be made,” Morrison said.

The company’s board remained comfortable with the profit guidance given in March.