Northern supermarket chain Wm Morrison has bowed to pressure from leading shareholders, and will appoint non-executive directors to its board for the first time.

Market watchers are shocked by the decision, since family-owned

Company Profile:

Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc

Morrison, which bases its reputation on no-frills shopping, has consistently refused to hire non-execs in the past because they could bring nothing to improve the performance of the company.

Despite this, chairman and CEO Sir Ken Morrison, told Sunday Business: “You have only got to look at our industry and realise that they can bring strengths. But they need to be the right people and bring the right resources and experience.”

“We always listen to the advice we get and, providing we choose the right people at the right time, I think we’ll go ahead with it,” he added.

Investors have had no reason to complain over the last few years, with the retailer posting impressive financial results and steady growth, but many have voiced concerns over the family dominance at the company. The call for non-executives was made by the National Association of Pension Funds, which represents many of Morrison’s major shareholders.

Ken Morrison, who is 70 next month and controls 40% of the firm, said that he has no plans to retire in the near future or sell his stake.

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