Marks and Spencer chief to step down

Marks and Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe is to step down in May after six years in the top job and will be replaced by a co-chief executive arrangement, the company said on Thursday.

Rowe, who has been with the retailer since he was 15, said it was the “right time to pass on the baton” after what he described as an “extraordinary transformation program” over the past few years.

Marks and Spencer said the decision was part of a planned succession program. Rowe will be replaced by Stuart Machin and Katie Bickerstaffe as co-chief executives. Until now, the pair have been co-chief operating officers of M&S. Bickerstaffe will focus on the digital future of the business, while Machin will have responsibility for day-to-day leadership.

“Steve has been a magnificent servant of M&S,” said chair Archie Norman. “The M&S he took over was in parlous shape and throughout my tenure he has been fearless in grasping the nettles and facing into the challenges and has delivered massive progress.”

Shares in M&S fell 0.8 per cent after the news, which had been expected at some point this year.

Much of Rowe’s tenure at the food and clothing retailer since he took over from Marc Bolland in April 2016 has been rocky, with profits falling amid heavy writedowns and exceptional charges, store closures and ejection from the FTSE 100 index.

He has also faced frequent speculation about the nature of his relationship with Norman, his high-profile and hands-on chair.

However, in recent months, the years of restructuring have begun to bear fruit. M&S has upgraded its profit guidance twice.

Line chart of Steve Rowe's tenure as M&S CEO showing Shares slide

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