Apr 4, 2016
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New M&S boss Rowe to keep control of clothing division

Apr 4, 2016

Steve Rowe, the new chief executive of British retailer Marks & Spencer, will continue to lead the firm's clothing business, saying turning around the troubled division is his top priority.

Rowe succeeded Marc Bolland as CEO of the clothing and food stores group on Saturday, stepping-up from his role leading general merchandise which he has held since only last July.

General merchandise consists of clothing, footwear and homeware and contributes about 60 percent of M&S's profit.

Rowe told Reuters on Monday he will not be appointing a new executive director for the division.

"I’m going to carry on looking after general merchandise," he said.

"The (GM) business unit directors will continue to report to me for the foreseeable future because that's where I believe the priority is...We need to get GM working."

Dutchman Bolland, CEO from 2010, spent billions of pounds on redesigning products, stores, supply chain logistics and the website to address decades of underinvestment.

However, Bolland failed to deliver a sustained rise in clothing sales to accompany the profit margin gains he did manage to achieve.

The general merchandise business has enjoyed just one quarter of positive like-for-like sales growth in 20 quarters and is expected to report another fall when M&S gives an update on trading on Thursday.

Shares in M&S, down over a quarter year-on-year, were up 1 percent at 411.4 pence at 1315 GMT.

Rowe, 48, who has been at M&S for 26 years, said he spent his first morning as CEO meeting staff and customers at the company's Croydon store in south London -- the shop where he had worked as a Saturday boy at the age of 15.

He had spent Monday briefing staff at M&S's central London headquarters.


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