M&S boss Steve Rowe could step down in 18 months’ time

Steve Rowe became chief executive in 2016
// M&S expects CEO Steve Rowe to step down in next 18 months
// Senior figures are aware that Rowe believes that CEOs have a tenure of 5 to 8 years

Marks & Spencer is preparing for chief executive Steve Rowe to step down from his role within the next 18 months.

Although there have been no formal conversations with the M&S board about his departure date, senior figures are aware that Rowe believes that chief executives have a tenure of five to eight years.

Rowe became chief executive in 2016 and succeeded Marc Bolland.

READ MORE: US private equity giant mulls M&S buyout

Robert Swannell, who was M&S chairman until 2017, said that he had been selected after a two-year internal assessment of candidates and because he knew the business “backwards”.

M&S chairman Archie Norman is expected to promote co-chief operating officers Katie Bickerstaffe and Stuart Machin, or chief financial officer Eoin Tonge, to the role of chief executive.

The news comes after US private equity firm Apollo recently looked at a potential takeover of M&S, given the recovery in its performance and the prospect that its shares may be undervalued.

The firm also thought the market had failed to attribute enough value to M&S’s 50 per cent share of the grocery giant Ocado’s retail business, acquired for £750 million in 2019.

The deal allowed M&S customers to buy its food online for the first time through the Ocado website.

However, it is not yet clear whether a recent surge in M&S shares, which have risen by 24 per cent on upgraded profit forecasts, has dampened Apollo’s appetite.

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