• Home
  • V1
  • Fashion
  • M&S says goodbye to chairman


M&S says goodbye to chairman


Jan 5, 2011

Sir Stuart Rose will formally hand over the chairmanship of Marks and Spencer to former investment banker Robert Swannell on Tuesday. The 61-year-old became chief executive in 2004. He was recruited to turn round the retailer,

which had seen its share price fall by a quarter in two years and was operating under the shadow of a possible bid from Topshop owner Sir Philip Green. He fought off Sir Philip and is credited with improving morale across the group, driving up customer numbers and increasing market share. But he has had to defend £3.4bn ($5.3bn) of capital expenditure. And while revenues increased by £2bn during his tenure as chief executive, profits before exceptionals were only £13.5m higher.

Sir Stuart’s relationship with shareholders was good until two years ago, when he came under fire from institutional investors for making himself executive chairman, in contradiction of corporate governance guidelines.

He became non-executive chairman in July last year, after the arrival in May of his successor as chief executive, Marc Bolland, but has since faced anger and activism over pay.

Six months into the job, Mr Bolland has been reversing some of Sir Stuart’s changes, particularly in food, where the new chief executive – who comes from Wm Morrison – announced that M&S would reduce the number of branded items on sale at stores.

One of Mr Bolland’s biggest growth targets, meanwhile, will be an area in which M&S has stumbled in the past: international expansion.

Sir Stuart began his retailing career at M&S, working there from 1972 to 1989; by the time he returned in 2004, he had served as chief executive at Argos, Booker and fashion-chain owner Arcadia Group – which he sold to Sir Philip in 2002.

Image: M&S Stuart Rose, Twiggy & Erin O'Connor
Source: FT©