M&S CEO Steve Rowe stands down as Machin and Bickerstaffe take over

M&S has been shorted by hedge fund giants
// M&S has promoted Stuart Machin to chief executive and made Katie Bickerstaffe his co-chief executives as current boss Steve Rowe steps down
// Machin will carry out the “day-to-day leadership” of M&S and with carry on leading food, operations, property, stores and technology, whilst Bickerstaffe will lead omnichannel, digital and data, clothing and home and international

Marks & Spencer has appointed food managing director Stuart Machin as chief executive and has made chief strategy and transformation officer Katie Bickerstaffe his co-chief executives as current boss Steve Rowe stands down.

Although both hold the chief executive title, Machin will take on responsibility for day-to-day leadership of the business and the executive committee.

He will continue to have oversight of his current management areas, including food, operations, property, store development and technology but will also take on HR and corporate communications.

Bickerstaffe will focus on omnichannel, digital and data, and will maintain responsibility for clothing & home, MS2, international and financial services, in her co-CEO role.

Rowe steps down on 25 May after six years as chief executive as part of M&S’ planned successsion plan. He joined M&S from school at the age of 15 and rose through the ranks before taking over as chief executive in 2016.

CFO Eoin Tonge becomes chief strategy and finance officer as part of the changes, which come as M&S embarks on the second phase of its transformation programme.

The internal hires reflect the the M&S board’s view that its current team has helped the business make “remarkable progress and that continuity of strategy and leadership is advantageous”.

It said: “Bringing together these three outstanding leaders will provide the stability, pace and bandwidth required to accelerate the pace of change.”

Marks & Spencer chairman Archie Norman said: “The appointments we are making today bring together a very strong leadership team to take the business into the next stage of its transformation.

“Both Stuart and Katie are outstanding high impact leaders with very strong track records and experience of leading businesses through transformative change.

“With Eoin, they make a very powerful leadership team able to span the full breadth of our businesses. Given the very strong recent progress we have made, keeping up the pace and momentum is critical.

“We are delighted to have brought together three exceptional individuals who, with the support of the executive committee, will provide vision, energy and pace for this next phase.”

READ MORE: Big interview: How M&S.com boss Stephen Langford is turbocharging online growth

Rowe has led M&S’ turnaround, which has been bearing fruit. In its last half-year results to 2 October, M&S made a profit before tax and adjusting items of £269.4 million, beating analysts forecasts.

Rowe will leave a very different looking M&S business. He took M&S Food online for the first time through the Ocado Retail joint venture and has doubled M&S clothing and home sales.

He has also addressed M&S’ legacy store estate, closing over 60 stores and has helped rebuild profitable growth in its international business. 

Rowe said: “It has been an enormous privilege to lead the business I love and have spent almost all my career working for. Leaving will be in many ways very difficult for me but I feel that after six hard years it is the right time to pass on the baton.

“A piece of my heart will always remain with the M&S family, and I feel that we have done many of the hard yards to restore the business to what it should be. I’m proud that I am leaving a very strong team who will lead it into the next growth phase. I wish them every success.”

Norman said Rowe had been a “magnificent servant of M&S” and put his “heart and soul into the job”.

“Coming from the shop floor to lead the business, he epitomises our values and has lived and breathed M&S for so many years.

“The M&S he took over was in parlous shape and throughout my tenure he has been fearless in grasping the nettles and facing into the challenges and has delivered massive progress. As we move into the next growth phase, he leaves a very strong team to take the business forward.”

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  1. This will be interesting, in my experience having joint CEOs leads to problems however carefully they are outlining their areas of responsibility at the moment. This is a recipe for future tension.

  2. M&S will probably go back down the pan as there inevitable be conflict between the two. It hasn’t all be rosey for stev rowe as he managed to get M&S in the red twice significantly during the lockdowns. How he did this I don’t know as they sell, food ( which everyone panicked brought) clothing and home furnishings with serval ways of selling this…online, c&c and most of all staying open. It says It all when Primark had to cease trading all together and still never went into the red unlike M&S who stay open. Was a perfect time to capture further market share within the food market by slashing its food prices but failed to do so. And the company still doesn’t really know what it is. It’s not a department store nor a supermarket.
    And my final gripe is they rave how stev rowe started off as a weekend kid to become the CEO but there all either deaf and blind. His father was a very senior figure with the company allowing him to progress quicker then the last covid wave.


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