Supermarket boss Ken Morrison leaves £235m in his will

Sir Ken Morrison
Sir Ken Morrison

Sir Ken Morrison, the Yorkshire tycoon who built a supermarket empire from an egg and butter stall, left an estate of £235m, it was confirmed today.

Sir Ken, who died in February at 85, bequeathed his fortune to his vast fortune will go on trust to his third wife, Lynne, and five children, including son William Morrison and daughter Eleanor Kernighan.

But his real legacy is Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket and the more than 500 stores bearing his name.

His will, written two years ago and published at the weekend, certified the gross value of his estate at £235,217,605 (net £233,703,100).

In it, Sir Ken asks his trustees to hand personal items as gifts to people named by him in separate memos.

He was long known to be one of Yorkshire’s richest men, and his family fortune was estimated at £1.6bn. He was knighted in the New Year’s Honours List in 2001 and lived in a magnificent French-style chateau in Myton-on-Swale, near Boroughbridge.

In 2000, before his £3bn takeover of rival Safeway, his family had a 38 per cent stake in Morrisons.

However, in recent years, this shrank to around nine per cent, his family selling shares worth more than £500m at the beginning of the current decade.

When Sir Ken stepped down from his full-time role in 2008 he rearranged his £1bn stake, gifting millions of shares to family trusts.

The sixth child and only son of William Morrison, Sir Ken worked with his father on the family stall in Bradford’s Rawson Market from the age of five. His job was to “candle” eggs - holding them against a flame to check for defects.


He left school at 18 and built up the business. When his father became ill, he returned from National Service in Germany to run it, rather than see it sold.

He was married and divorced as a young man and later remarried, but Edna, his second wife, died of cancer 24 years ago.

His third wife, Lynne, 30 years his junior, is a former lawyer who worked for his company’s legal advisers.

Over the past nine years, he took a more of a back seat role, but that didn’t stop him from stepping in to the firm’s affairs when he felt its former chief executive, Dalton Phillips, was taking it in the wrong direction.


Three years ago, he told the group’s AGM in Bradford: “When I left work and started working as a hobby, I chose to raise cattle. I have something like 1,000 bullocks and, having listened to your presentation, Dalton, you’ve got a lot more bull**** than me.”
 
However he lived to see the group’s renaissance under the former Tesco boss, David Potts, who took over the reins in 2015. At the beginning of this year, Morrisons reported its best Christmas performance for seven years.

One subject that was close to Sir Ken’s heart was his beloved home city of Bradford. 
 
In 2007, he opened the Born in Bradford project at Bradford Royal Infirmary, studying why babies born in Bradford were so prone to illness. 
 
As a Bradford baby himself, he was determined to give his home city his full support, and his efforts earned him a place in the Yorkshire Hall of Fame, celebrating the region’s greatest icons from the past and present.

He also set up the Ken and Edna Morrison Charitable Trust, which last year awarded grants of £144,000 to charities in West Yorkshire.