M&S veteran Rowe to succeed Bolland as chief executive

Thu Jan 7, 2016 3:43am EST
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By James Davey and Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Marc Bolland will step down as the boss of Marks & Spencer (MKS.L: Quote) in April, bringing an end to six difficult years at the British retailer following yet another weak Christmas.

Bolland will be replaced as chief executive by Steve Rowe, 48, who has run divisions covering both food and clothing in his 25 years at the company, the best known name in British shopping.

M&S Chairman Robert Swannell told reporters Bolland had not been under any pressure to leave from either the board or shareholders and one investor told Reuters they had not expected the departure so swiftly.

"(The news was) quite a surprise, although it is not uncommon for CEOs to move on after that kind of tenure," said Richard Marwood, senior investment manager at AXA Investment Managers, one of the company’s top 40 shareholders.

"Having somebody already in the business succeeding him is probably no bad thing. I don't think we are looking for a change of direction. Investors are still waiting for the Bolland plan of a more cash generative, well invested and internet enabled business to be fully delivered," he added.

Analysts said Bolland had modernized M&S and put it on to a stronger footing -- with international and online sales improving and the food business taking market share -- giving Rowe a stronger platform than Bolland when he took over in 2010.

M&S shares traded 0.8 percent higher at 442.3 pence at 0825 GMT.

Bolland, 56, spent billions of pounds on the redesign of products, stores, supply chain logistics and the website to address decades of underinvestment at its clothing business.   Continued...

Marks & Spencer Chief Executive Marc Bolland poses for photographers at the opening of a Marks & Spencer store in Mumbai November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui