Business

UK’s M&S relies on continuity as CEO steps down

FILE PHOTO: A Marks and Spencer (M&S) logo can be seen on the outside of a store in Cheshire
FILE PHOTO: A Marks and Spencer (M&S) logo outside a shop in Cheshire, Britain August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

March 10, 2022

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – Steve Rowe will step down in May after six years as chief executive of Marks & Spencer, with the British retailer opting for continuity by electing two of his senior lieutenants to succeed him.

Rowe, who joined M&S aged 15 before rising through the ranks, will step down after the food and clothing retailer released full-year results on May 25.

His tenure in one of the highest profile jobs in British business was a turbulent one as he, along with Chairman Archie Norman, strove to transform M&S by improving the quality and value of its clothing and food products, overhauling its storefront and investing heavily in Technology and e-commerce, including a joint venture with Ocado Group Plc that brought M&S ​​Food online for the first time.

After guiding the retailer through the pandemic, he is leaving as hopes mount that one of Britain’s elusive about-faces after more than a decade of false dawns may finally materialize.

M&S shares, which closed at 159p on Thursday, were trading at nearly £4 when Rowe became CEO in April 2016.

The group said current joint chief operating officers Stuart Machin and Katie Bickerstaffe will take over Rowe’s duties in an unconventional structure.

Machin becomes CEO and assumes responsibility for the day-to-day running of the company and the Executive Committee.

He will retain oversight of his current responsibilities, which include running M&S’ grocery business, operations, real estate, store development and technology, and will assume responsibility for human resources and corporate communications.

Bickerstaffe will become co-CEO and will focus on driving M&S’s strategy to sell across multiple platforms while retaining her existing responsibilities for apparel and homeware, MS2, international and financial services.

Both Machin and Bickerstaffe will join M&S’s PLC Board on May 25.

Machin, Bickerstaffe and Chief Financial Officer Eoin Tonge were favorites to succeed Rowe.

Tonge has been promoted to Chief Strategy & Finance Officer and will have an increased role in leading the company’s future development.

“The Board believes that the Company has made notable progress under the current team and that the continuity of strategy and leadership is beneficial,” said M&S.

However, some observers were stunned by the new structure, saying it ran counter to M&S’s stated desire for a leaner, simpler company.

Rowe will step down from being an M&S employee after the AGM on July 5 but will remain an advisor for up to a year.

(Reporting by James Davey in London; Editing by Kate Holton, Kirsten Donovan and Matthew Lewis)

https://www.oann.com/ms-ceo-steve-rowe-to-step-down-in-may/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ms-ceo-steve-rowe-to-step-down-in-may UK’s M&S relies on continuity as CEO steps down

DUSTIN JONES

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