M&S headhunt could lead to first female boss

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M&S boss hunt could lead to first female boss as retailer kicks off process to replace CEO Steve Rowe

  • M&S hired headhunter MWM Consulting to advise on a plan
  • Potential internal candidates include COO Katie Bickerstaffe
  • The others are Stuart Machin and CFO Eoin Tonge










Marks & Spencer has started a process to replace Managing Director Steve Rowe.

The nation’s largest retailer has hired headhunter MWM Consulting to advise it on a plan that will consider three internal candidates, including Katie Bickerstaffe, who would be the company’s first female boss if appointed to the post.

Also among the nominees are Stuart Machin, who revitalized the company’s food business, and CFO Eoin Tonge.

In search of a new boss: M&S hired headhunter MWM Consulting to advise on a plan

Signs that M&S ​​is set to consider replacements for Rowe suggest that the mood at its Paddington headquarters is improving further after the hard work of the past four years since the arrival of President Archie Norman.

The retailer would have had an enviable year-end on both food and clothing as many retailers struggled to cope with the disruption.

It has consistently ranked as the top performing food retailer in the market this fall, and insiders say clothing sales have been so healthy it won’t start dropping wholesale prices until the Boxing Day sale begins. online at the end of this week.

A formal research process has yet to begin and Rowe could stay at the helm for a few more years, Sky News said. But sources told the Mail on Sunday that the announcement of his replacement could come as early as next year.

Sky added that benchmarking internal candidates – a common part of board succession processes – will eventually lead to a formal, timely search that will include external candidates.

CEO Steve Rowe could stay at the helm for a few more years, Sky News says

CEO Steve Rowe could stay at the helm for a few more years, Sky News says

However, M&S has put considerable effort into preparing internal candidates. Bickerstaffe, former patron of Dixons Carphone operations in the UK and Ireland, was initially hired to take a non-executive role on the board in 2018. Last year she moved on to a much larger role. practical as a director of strategy and transformation.

Then, earlier this year, Bickerstaffe and the boss of Food Machin were promoted to joint COO positions. effectively opposing them to the leading role.

The new board structure quickly followed a report from MoS that Machin was seen as the best candidate to lead Asda.

Rowe, who started Saturday at M&S ​​at the age of 15, has been Managing Director since 2016 after taking over from Marc Bolland. Rowe’s knowledge, energy and business understanding of retail is widely viewed as essential to getting the business back in shape.

A spokesperson for M&S said: “Every board has succession planning as part of their thinking, but we don’t have any formal process in place.”



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