M&S boss to quit after six years in top job

Steve Rowe joined the business at 15 and rose through the ranks until eventually taking over as chief executive in 2016.

10 March 2022

The chief executive of Marks & Spencer will step down after six years in the role and a career spent with the business.

Steve Rowe will end his time in charge on May 25, succeeded by a duo of Stuart Machin and Katie Bickerstaffe, who worked together as co-chief operating officers at the retail chain.

It marks the end of a slow journey to the top for Mr Rowe, who joined the business at 15 and rose through the ranks until eventually taking over as chief executive in 2016.

“It has been an enormous privilege to lead the business I love and have spent almost all my career working for,” Mr Rowe said.

Steve Rowe
Steve Rowe (Marks & Spencer/PA)

“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.”

He took charge at a time of turbulence for the company, and has led it through a transformation.

M&S said it is now “in very different shape” to when Mr Rowe took over six years ago.

It has, for instance, started selling food online through Ocado, closed more than 60 shops across the country and of course been forced to deal with the impact of a global pandemic and the lockdowns that came with it.

He will continue to advise the new leadership team for 12 months.

Chairman Archie Norman said: “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. But as someone who has touched so many colleagues across the business over the years, he will be much missed and goes with our huge affection and best wishes.”

The business will now start what it calls a second phase of the transformation that started under Mr Rowe.

Mr Machin will be responsible for the food business, the operations, property, store development and technology as well as HR.

Ms Bickerstaffe will focus on global operations, and the company’s digital future.

She will also keep her current responsibilities looking after the clothing and home stores among others.

Eoin Tonge, who had also been linked to the top job, will take over as chief strategy and finance officer.

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