Supermarket boss Sir Ken Morrison - Checking out a new career

PUBLISHED: 15:37 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:07 20 February 2013

Sir Ken Morrison

Sir Ken Morrison

At 77 Sir Ken Morrison is probably Britain's oldest apprentice. <br/>So why does a man who spent 55 years building his supermarket chain still want to work? Paul Mackenzie meets the Yorkshire Agricultural Society's president-in-waiting to find out

When the definitive history of Yorkshire is written few people will demand a chapter to themselves. Geoff Boycott will share the limelight with Dickie Bird, Darren Gough and the rest; Parky will feature alongside Alan Titchmarsh and Richard Whitely; and Harold Wilson will be in there with David Blunkett and William Hague but Sir Ken Morrison will stand alone.

He's used to that, mind. For 55 years he single-handedly (and single-mindedly) built up his parents' market stall into the UK's fourth largest supermarket chain and became one of the UK's richest men with an estimated fortune of 1.6bn.

Now approaching his 78th birthday, Sir Ken is one of those bluff, gruff, calls-a-spade-a-shovel sort of Yorkshiremen the London media love to ridicule but even they have been respectful of his achievements - one or two of them have even called him a retail genius.

And Sir Ken could be about to impress them again, with his acumen in another field. The field across the road from his house, as it happens.

The recent purchase of more farmland brought his total estate to about 1,000 acres and he said:
'I have always been interested in farming and that interest is growing.

'I have a farm manager who I enjoy working with but I'm in something of an unusual situation because he knows so much more than I do and I'm not particularly happy about that. I'm doing all I can to try to catch him up but he's got a 40 year head start on me. I'm on an apprenticeship, I just have to hope no-one says "you're fired".

Sir Ken's connections with farming go back a long way. His dad William launched a grocery business in Bradford in 1899 and even as a young boy Ken and his five older sisters were all drafted in to help.

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