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Early runners and riders for Marks & Spencer top jobs

Marks & Spencer chairman and chief executive Stuart Rose continues to be on the receiving end of rumours that he is to step down from his joint-roles at the company earlier than expected and of speculation about who will be his likely replacements. By Glynn Davis, City editor

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Early runners and riders for Marks & Spencer top jobs

Marks & Spencer chairman and chief executive Stuart Rose continues to be on the receiving end of rumours that he is to step down from his joint-roles at the company earlier than expected and of speculation about who will be his likely replacements. By Glynn Davis, City editor

Although such loose talk receives swift rebuttals from M&S we thought it still worth doing a bit of a round-up of who has been linked to the top jobs at the company so far because regardless of when he actually leaves Rose will have to put in place a su
ccession plan at some point and also tell us all about it.

The speculation ball began rolling back in March when Tony Shiret published his critical report on M&S that highlighted Kate Swann of WH Smith, Andy Bond of Asda, Marc Bolland at Morrisons and Justin King of Sainsbury's as all being in the frame.

This list was quickly followed by reports that both Allan Leighton and Archie Norman had expressed interest in taking over the chairmanship of M&S although little further has been heard about their intentions.

Early front-runner King has recently stated that he is committed to a few more years at Sainsbury's, which means nothing of course, and so he must still be classed as in the game.

The only problem with this early list was that only Bond has any experience of clothing and he has reportedly ruled himself out of the job by saying he is not interested. He could, however, suddenly become interested when the job is actually available of course.

The need for clothing experience has led to a second batch of candidates being thrown under the spotlight including Ben Gordon whose experience as chief executive of Mothercare will have given him sufficient clothing know-how to grow into the role at M&S.

The most recent player to be included in the game is former Aquascutum chief executive Kim Winser who recently failed to pull off an MBO of the business. She is now the preferred external candidate of Investec Securities for the chief exec job at M&S but is also reckoned to be in the frame for the top job at Versace.

It is of course still extremely early days in the M&S big cheese race so expect much more entertaining speculation and jockeying for position in the months (and possibly years!) ahead.

glynnd@theretailbulletin.com

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