Management Turnover as Change Agent

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marks and Spencer Hooks Big Fish for CEO

Marks & Spencer’s MKS (LSE) well known CEO Sir Stuart Rose, who has been instrumental in turning the fortunes of the British clothing retailer around, will officially be replaced next year. The company has been working on a CEO search for nearly two years. Rose was even on my CEO Watch list back in September 2008. M&S selected Marc Bolland ,the highly regardeSir Stuart Rosed CEO of supermarket group William Morrison Supermarkets PLC, as it new CEO. Bolland is a real catch for M&S and a serious loss for William Morrison. According to a story by Sarah Shannon for Bloomberg,

Bolland joins M&S as the company seeks to restore same- store sales growth after two years of decline. He spent three years as CEO of Morrison, restoring profit after the 2004 purchase of competitor Safeway led to the company’s first-ever loss. M&S gets close to 50 percent of saMark Bollandles from food.

“To get someone with credibility in place is a huge positive,” said Paul Mumford, a fund manager at Cavendish Asset Management who holds Marks stock. M&S’s food division has been “suffering” from cheaper-priced supermarkets and Bolland will “help them move towards winning back market share.”

… The appointment “removes the uncertainty that’s been hanging over the stock for some time,” according to Mumford.

… “He brings a wealth of consumer marketing experience and has made a great success of his time at Morrisons,” Rose, who will remain as M&S’s part-time chairman, said in the statement. Rose will stay on to “ensure a smooth transition,” the retailer said, and will leave as planned by July 2011.Marks & Spencer’s One Year Stock Performance

Bolland’s selection is a real feather in M&S’s hat. Despite the long amount of time it took to find a CEO, Bolland has many of the qualities M&S needs as it moves forward. According to a story by James Davey and Mark Potter for Reuters,

Bolland is widely regarded as having delivered a successful turnaround at Morrisons. Previous to that job he was chief operating officer at Heineken (HEIN.AS) based in the Netherlands.

… He took the reins from Ken Morrison, son of the founder and a major shareholder, and showed the kind of diplomacy he may need during what could be a period of powersharing with Rose.

Rose said the handover period would be about six weeks.

Ignoring some analysts’ calls for him to sell off Morrison’s food manufacturing operations and invest in non-food ranges, Bolland stuck with the group’s traditional “Market Street” format of fresh food counters and gave it a makeover.

Combined with innovative promotions and new product ranges, he transformed Morrison into the fastest growing of Britain’s top four food retailers for most of the past two years.

Bolland’s greatest risk as M&S’ new CEO is his lack of clothing expertise. He seems to be a quick learner and I would expect he will rely on his team to help him come up to speed. Stay tuned.

For more:

Wall Street Journal

Management Today


IB Times

UK Guardian

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