Saturday, 29 April 2017

Marks & Spencer closes in on appointment of Swannell successor



Marks & Spencer (M&S) is closing in on the appointment of a new chairman as it finalises an overhaul of its leadership team aimed at accelerating the revival of Britain’s best-known retailer.
 
Sky News understands that M&S is in advanced talks with Archie Norman, the former Asda boss, and at least one other candidate about replacing Robert Swannell, the former investment banker who has chaired M&S since 2010.


Mr Norman, who stepped down as ITV's chairman last year, has long been seen as a logical contender for the role.


He is understood to have held a round of talks with M&S board members in recent weeks, but sources close to the company cautioned that his appointment was far from certain.


"There are at least two - and possibly three - people that M&S is still talking to," said one City insider.


The identity of other candidates for the M&S chairmanship was unclear on Friday, although they do not include Richard Baker, the Whitbread chairman who has previously been linked to the job.


If Mr Norman does land the job, it would be a case of third time lucky for him: in the last two years, he has been close to being named as the chairman of Tesco, while he was also being lined up to chair J Sainsbury as part of a putative takeover bid by a private equity consortium.


Mr Norman is the lead director of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and holds other roles at Lazard, the investment bank, and Hobbycraft, the privately owned retailer.


The recruitment of a successor to Mr Swannell is one of several crucial appointments expected to be made by M&S around the time of its annual results late next month.
 
 
Steve Rowe, who replaced Marc Bolland as M&S's chief executive a year ago, is hunting a boss for its clothing and home operations, having been close to hiring the former Next executive Christos Angelides - who instead joined Reiss.


Last week, Mr Rowe struck a deal to retain the services of Mark and Neal Lindsay, the brothers who have run its sourcing operations for the last three years.


Mr Rowe is under pressure to deliver early evidence in his tenure of an improvement in the performance of M&S' general merchandise business, which struggled under Mr Bolland's leadership.


Gross margin gains have been a rare bright spot for M&S' clothing unit, which has seen like-for-like sales decline in the vast majority of the last 20 quarters.


Mr Rowe's decision to keep the Lindsays on came the day after he unveiled the first phase of a store closure plan announced last November.


Six town centre shops will be shut, but M&S has pledged that the 380 staff affected will be found alternative posts elsewhere at the company.




SKY     News.